As their schools close and their families struggle to stay afloat, girls in nine countries grapple with social isolation and the threat of poverty and child marriage.
“Many parents don’t have a job or money for school fees, so they have started planning to send their children to work,” says Sangamithra, 15, in India. “In [the] case of girls, they may plan to marry them off at an early age.”
As COVID-19 tears through communities across the globe, children have become the hidden victims of the pandemic. School closures and other lockdown measures adopted to stem the spread of the virus have cut off millions of children from quality learning, critical vaccines, and nutritious diets.
For girls, disruptions also come at the cost of their safety.
The risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices soars during an emergency – especially for girls living under restricted movement and socioeconomic decline. Many girls kept from school today will never return, their childhood stolen by child marriage or pregnancy.
These are the stories of young girls living through COVID-19 – coping with the fears of child marriage, the struggles of distance learning, and the burden of isolation.