Unveiling some of many risks of early marriage, and the significance of a call for action.
Picture yourself at the tender age of 15, and your parents decided to deprive you from one of your most basic rights: education. And why? so that you could marry some boy you barely know from your village and who might be at least 7 to 8 years older than you. Envision the scenario where instead of classrooms and friends and books, having an arranged marriage with a stranger.
Now imagine the challenges of becoming a mother at the age of 16, the physical abuse this will put you through, and zero financial independence to break the cycle of mental and physical violence this put you in. Such narrative may seem from the past, in our great grandparents’ era maybe, but do you know this still happens? In many regions in the world, it will make you frustrated. Do you care to delve into the risks of those girls?
We might not be living them, and most probably do not know anyone that is, but this is a call to sympathy and awareness, so even if we are shielded and blessed, countless girls out there aren’t.
Let’s dive into those risks.
Around the world, child marriage is a widespread and deeply ingrained social issue that impacts millions of children, especially girls. When one or both partners are under the age of 18, it refers to an informal union. Even while we have made great strides in many areas of human growth, these unsettling realities still exist in some parts of the world, especially in less developed nations and regions like Africa and some Arab regions.
The health problems that young brides confront are among the most urgent; early pregnancies raise the risk of maternal death and difficulties after childbirth. Girls forced into early marriages sometimes find themselves taken away from school, which harms their educational goals and leads to increased literacy. Additionally, early marriages come with a higher rate of domestic abuse.
Beyond physical health, there is a significant psychological cost. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can be factual consequences. Little girls have little to no financial independence which keeps them stuck in this loop. Hovering over the countries, we can see that most of those in darker shade of blue are African countries, and other less developed countries including Bangladesh, Chad, Niger, Mali, and others. The treemap serves to highlight some of these countries where this is highly prevalent.
Poverty, is one of the root causes of Early Marriage which is shown below, that poverty is relatively high in the countries mentioned in this study. Parents in less developed countries think of their daughters as financial burdens which is why they take them out of school and force them into marrying young. Limited living resources force families to believe that marriage is a way of surviving. In the same countries we put into study, we can see that the Poverty Headcount is large in most of them.
According to UNICEF, 21% of young women (aged 20 to 24) were married as children. Before turning eighteen, one in five females gets married. That figure doubles in the least developed nations, where 12% of girls get married before turning 15 and 40% of girls get married before turning 18. This is 28 girl every minute. The below visuals show that the countries in study are mainly located in Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Asia, have their women justify being beaten by their husbands and still normalize it, have young girls out of school, and have higher risks of maternal death, meaning that early marriage may cause all the below. These are just some amongst many consequences.
Countries including Bangladesh, Senegal, Niger, Uganda, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Guinea, and many more, seemed to always have these issues combined.
Can you believe that 17.48% of women in Bangladesh justify being beaten? Followed by 11.63% in Mali, 10.80% in Ethiopia, ranking the top 3 among many other countries.
Additionally, 18.41%, followed by 13.19% and 9.19% in Niger, Guinea, and Mozambique respectively.
The Bubble Chart serves to highlight countries where Maternal Death Risk is most prevalent as well. Is it a coincidence that the same countries that have high early marriage rates, almost rank high in all three risks?
It is imperative to save young girls from forced marriage, give them the right education they deserve, decrease their risk of dying while giving birth, mitigate the physical and mental abuse, and give them the right to just be little girls.
Collectively, we can combat early marriage and create an atmosphere where girls feel empowered to continue their education and make educated decisions about their futures, to mitigate the risks.
It can include educational awareness, health awareness, social awareness against violence and domestic abuse, free training, and educational programs, etc.
Details of the solution:
Promoting access to quality education especially for girls by making it free especially in the less developed countries where parents would rather not spend any money on their girls and see them as financial burdens.
Conducting awareness campaigns on the potential side effects of child marriages.
Create economic opportunities for girls through skill development and training to enhance their financial independence.
Promotion of Gender Equality.
Engaging parents in these campaigns on the importance of financial stability and independence before marriage.
The solution may also include legal consequences.
Leveraging social media to raise awareness!
Findings and Recommendations:
The recommendations are centered around the efforts that should be made to enforce the laws setting a minimum age for marriage, additionally to challenging the cultural norms and conducting awareness activities, setting a legal age for marriage, support and healthcare systems, educational and training initiatives and provide girls with the circumstances that allow them to make their own decisions.
Through strategic partnerships and targeted interventions, we can dismantle the barriers of global poverty, unlocking a future where prosperity is shared by all.
The Global Landscape of Poverty: A Complex Challenge
Global poverty, a complex and multifaceted issue, continues to be a significant obstacle to human development and equality. It affects billions, limiting access to basic needs, education, and opportunities. Despite global efforts, poverty remains persistent, underscoring the need for a deeper understanding and more effective solutions.
Mapping Poverty: A World of Contrasts and Challenges
Our journey into understanding global poverty begins with a striking global map visualization, where a spectrum of colors from intense blues to intense reds illustrates the varying levels of poverty across nations. This visual disparity is profound: regions awash in blue signify lower levels of poverty, while those in red reveal the depth of poverty’s grip.
Augmenting this, our bar chart analysis provides a comparative view of average poverty rates by country, underscoring the regional differences and highlighting areas where the challenge is most acute.
Blueprint for Change: A Holistic Approach to Poverty Alleviation
Tackling poverty requires a comprehensive approach, one that addresses its root causes and provides sustainable solutions. This involves not just short-term relief, but also long-term strategies aimed at systemic change. Key areas of focus include improving access to quality education, ensuring healthcare availability, and creating economic opportunities through job creation and support for small businesses.
Dual Dynamics: Local Action, Global Support in Poverty Reduction
In grappling with the challenge of how less affluent regions can embark on poverty reduction, we see a dual approach at play.
Internally, nations with scant resources can reassign budgeting towards essential sectors such as education, health, and economic infrastructure. Even modest investments in primary education, for instance, can generate long-term returns in lifting communities out of poverty.
Externally, the role of international aid is paramount. Support from developed countries, global agencies, and NGOs can provide the necessary springboard for initiatives that are beyond the financial reach of struggling regions.
Paths to Progress: Success Stories in Poverty Reduction
To demonstrate this, our trend line visualization spotlights five countries – China, Belarus, Thailand, Pakistan, and Azerbaijan – as examples of nations that have successfully reduced their poverty levels over the years. These trend lines offer a narrative of progress and hope, suggesting that with the right mix of policies and support, the trajectory of poverty can indeed be reversed. This validation is not just in numbers but also in the improved quality of life and increased opportunities for their citizens.
Roadmap to Resilience: Strategies for a Poverty-Free Future
As we conclude our exploration, it’s clear that while the challenge of poverty is formidable, it is not insurmountable. With a global commitment to targeted, data-driven strategies, we can address the diverse facets of poverty more effectively. Our recommendations are clear and focused:
Prioritize Quality Education: Education is the key to unlocking potential and catalysing change. By ensuring access to quality learning, we open doors to opportunities and development.
Accessible Healthcare for All: Emphasize prevention and treatment in healthcare to ensure it is universally accessible. Good health is a foundation for prosperity and progress.
Targeted International Aid: Direct international aid strategically to build sustainable capacities where they are most needed.
Harmonize Cross-Sector Policies: Align policies across various sectors to create a cohesive and comprehensive approach to eradicating poverty.
Share and Learn Globally: Collaborate and share successful strategies on a global scale. Learning from each other’s experiences is vital in this collective endeavour.
These recommendations are steps towards a world where poverty is a thing of the past, and prosperity is within everyone’s reach.
Together, we can advance closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1: No Poverty, creating a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Authors: Tala Abdul Samad, Nour Al Bidewe, Basman Hariri, Sara Sadaka, Aziz Saliby, Jean-Pierre Sakr
Over the past two years, Lebanon has been witnessing compounded crises such as brain drain, poverty, unemployment, and inequality. On October 3rd, we wanted to listen to the factors that affected the Lebanese the most. Borhan, a 60-year-old man living in Beirut, was one of the people we met. We captured a video with him to show the suffering of the Lebanese since the start of the crisis where he comprehensively described the severe living conditions. As we all know, 2019 was a year of transformation for Lebanon, beginning with the October 17th revolution in 2019, following the global pandemic in 2020, and the rise of inflation. Borhan expressed the feelings of most Lebanese, where he identified the problems that we are facing as residents. Many people mentioned that specific sectors have been hit the most, therefore we would like to perform exploratory data analysis and surveys using different datasets to be able to identify inequalities. We are also interested in using a data-driven approach to identify gaps and inequalities that exist in the education, income, and health sectors.
As a result, we have exploited the World Bank’s World Development Indicatorsand we have identified several indicators which we have used as proxies to measure multidimensional poverty in Lebanon. We chose to have a topic related to the multidimensional poverty index in Lebanon compared to the Arab region. Since the multidimensional poverty index is calculated using three different dimensions, namely education, living conditions, and health, we decided to divide the three different dimensions among us.
Housing is a significant indicator of the multidimensional poverty (MDP), and based on ESCWA calculations, the main indicators to assume whether housing is counted as depreciation for a household or not are ‘Overcrowding rate’ – the percentage of the population living in an overcrowded household – ‘Housing type’ i.e. houses, apartments, row houses, townhouses and duplexes, ‘Sanitation quality’ – availability of handwashing facilities, toilet cleanliness.
Historical data related to housing utilities in Lebanon was gathered from theCentral Administration of Statistics (CAS), which contains significant indicators to measure MDP such as water, electricity, gas, actual rent, furnishings, household equipment and routine household, and others. Data is shown monthly from December 2007 till September 2022.
This data reported many indicators highlighting the increase in poverty on multiple sides. It is worth reporting that the consumer price index (CPI) Housing Utilities in Lebanon records the highest score this September 2022 (363.3) compared to October 2021 (215.9).
Looking at the nutrition level, food inflation was detected as the cost is more skewed to the right for the year 2021-2022; rising food prices reduce the purchasing power of food consumers. Another devaluation could be mentioned in the transportation sector, as the transportation sub-index of the CPI basket in Lebanon increased by 2339 points in September of 2022 (3,725), compared to August 2021 (1,386); the cost of transportation is significantly increasing, resulting in a limitation to access in the transportation sector.
It is worth mentioning that the CPI in Lebanon has more than doubled over the past year, peaking this September 2022 at a score of 1,611.4 against 714.8 in October 2021, and a higher CPI indicates higher inflation. This eventually leads to adjustments in the cost of living and income, which tends to worsen inequality or poverty as it hits income and savings harder for poorer or middle-income households than for wealthy households.
As stated by Joao Martins, MSF Head of Mission in Lebanon, “The crisis in Lebanon has been driven by years of corruption and now we are seeing that this can contribute to the destruction of an entire health system just as effectively as war or a natural disaster”. As a result, it is important to conduct a deep dive analysis on the healthcare system in Lebanon which is a dimension that measures multidimensional poverty.
First we will look at the current health expenditure (%of GDP) which takes into account the public and private health expenditure. By comparing Lebanon to the Arab World, we can notice that the current health expenditure is higher along the mid 2000 with Lebanon having 11% in 2000 while the Arab World having 4%. After that, Lebanon witnessed a decrease and the Arab World an increase reaching a value of 9% and 5%, respectively. The decrease in the expenditure in Lebanon has negatively affected the healthcare system as medication and vaccines are becoming scarce. Looking more closely, we can see in the next graph that the access to immunization has tremendously decreased in Lebanon. On average the access to vaccines (such as DPT, HepB3, and measles) has decreased from 83% (2000) to 67% (2021).
On another hand, we evaluated the demand for private insurance in Lebanon. As we can see, the demand has decreased from 70% (2000) to 45% (2021). This decrease is due to all private insurance companies converting their payment method to fresh U.S. dollars and since the NSSF benefits have diminished due to the economic crisis, most Lebanese people are now left with no proper access to health assistance.
We also conducted a survey on school and university students to analyze access to online education during the COVID-19 pandemic which was also identified as the new normal.
You can be part of our project by filling this online survey. Your answers are highly valuable to the development of our dashboard since the larger the sample size, the more accurate our results would be.
At a later stage, we would like to present our results to our target audience which are UN agencies, local NGOs, and Lebanese ministries. We got a total of 135 responses from all over Lebanon where the survey was populated via social media platforms. The majority of the respondents were university students or graduates. Most of them were unemployed or employed in a full time position.
We asked the respondents about their evaluation to their online experience; the answers rated their experience as poor or fair. On a scale from 1 being a very bad experience and 5 being a very good experience, most of the respondents rated the effectiveness of online learning as 3. In addition, we asked about the preferred type of education; the majority answered the traditional physical method as the most preferred following the hybrid method as second preferred. These answers make us conclude that the online learning experience was not that good in Lebanon. This might be due to the lack of training from the government and the teachers.
To further explore the facilities that were available to ease the online learning experience, we asked the people about their access to devices, electricity and internet. For the devices, the majority had access to devices that were mainly Mobile phones or laptops. Most of the respondents have access to electricity but not all the time while almost all the respondents have access to internet but the variance changed between access all the time and access but not all the time. Most of the respondents reflected that they couldn’t focus and they weren’t serious about their studies during online learning. Furthermore, on a scale from 1 being not at all to 5 being for sure, we asked the people about their willingness to retake the online experience. The answers varied between 1 and 2 mainly.
Finally, we asked the people about the disadvantages of online learning. Some of the responses include poor network, electricity cuttage, procrastination, weak communication, lack of motivation to study, more distraction, professors are not equipped with the resources, challenging experience for both students and professors. From this survey, we can conclude that Lebanon wasn’t prepared well for such a situation, especially its basic infrastructure which includes bad electricity and network services.
In this article, I’ll be discussing the Lebanese economic crisis,it’s challenges and solutions.– Fun fact: the 0’s and 1’s (above) are, ‘Lebanon’ in binary.
Most news today about Lebanon, is unfortunately, bad news.
There’s an electric and currency crisis, a brain drain and so much more.
And in these dark times, Lebanon is losing its lights, its educated people, to the other place. But outside sensational news, and using data, can we verify these challenges and offer a solution?
Well, after Investigating Lebanon’s inflation and GDP, we clearly see sky-rocketing inflation and a tumbling GDP.
But what is the solution?
Now, for a country to trade, it needs to find a niche – that is that one or two things it can do better than it’s competition and trade with those things.
The bottom chart (in the above visualization) represents the population and export sizes of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and UAE – Lebanon, the one in red, is greatly surpassed in both metrics.
However, if we look on the chart on-top, in 2017, we see a golden opportunity, in the form of a golden bar: This is Lebanon’s Human Capital Index; which at a fraction of the budget, performs relatively close to the two economic powerhouses of the region.
This is where Lebanon can do trade! This is Lebanon’s niche! Youare Lebanon’s niche!
And here are the solution details summarized:
‘While in Lebanon, the Lebanese youth should work to obtain then commercialize patents in the digital service space.’- This is the Solution!
This will diminish inflation, brain drain, unemployment, and offset copycat strategies!
For the detailed version of the solution, please examine the visual above.
And, to validate that Lebanese ideas are commercially lucrative:
According to the IMF, Lebanon ranks second in terms of Venture capital investment as a % to GDP. The United States ranks 1st with 2.84%, Lebanon comes in a close-second with 2.8% – so experienced investors see great potential in Lebanese talent!
And in being part of the solution, I’m in the process of launching MSBA.io! – a site dedicated to the MSBA Alumni, where they can tell their stories, share their portfolios and get discovered;there will even be a collaboration section where they can work on projects to help build up the Lebanese tech scene!
So, this story has not ended; itis only just beginning!