Due in large measure to USAID-provided health messages provided to a member of the local Village Council and leader in her community, 15-year-old Bakhtawar will be able to finish school - and growing up - before she is married.

Kanjeer, Pakistan – Bakhtawar was a good student in the fifth grade at a small school located in a Southern Pakistan village.

She enjoyed learning, laughing with her friends, and spending time with her family. But one evening, as she sat nervously in a chair beside her parents at the local meeting hall, she knew that everything about her childhood was coming to an end. No more school, no more girlfriends, no more fun.

At 15, Bakhtawar was about to become engaged to be married. Read her story here!

The impacts of early marriage are substantial not
just for young women, but their children as well: Infants born to mothers younger than 20 years old face a higher risk of death shortly from after birth up to age five than those born to older mothers.

USAID is working to achieve dramatic improvements in sustainable health outcomes, with a particular focus on improving the health of  women and girls. In addition, USAID is addressing the myriad economic, cultural, social, and legal barriers that impede their access to needed health care.

USAID-supported community consultations impart important health messages on maternal and child health and family planning as well as early marriage.

The unacceptably high rate of maternal mortality is directly linked to persistent gender inequalities, including gender-based violence, harmful traditional practices such as early and forced marriage, lack of education, lack of economic opportunity, and unequal access to adequate health services and facilities.

Women are drivers of international development, which is why USAID and the U.S. Government as a whole is working to help the leaders of developing nations understand that there is much to gain from reforms that remove the barriers that prevent women from improving their lives and their health. This will also improve the lives of their families and communities.