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Strengthening Human Capital in South Asia by Preventing Child Marriage

December 8, 2021




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Wednesday, December 8th | 8:00 AM ET | 5:30 PM (Kabul) | 6:00 PM (Male, Islamabad) | 6:30 PM (New Delhi, Colombo) | 6:45 PM (Kathmandu) | 7:00 PM (Dhaka, Thimphu)

The World Bank South Asia Gender Team is hosting a flagship event in collaboration with the South Asia Gender Innovation Lab (SAR GIL) to discuss the evidence and lessons learned from innovative women’s economic empowerment (WEE) strategies to address child marriage. 

In South Asia, one-third of women between the ages of 20-24 were married before age 18, which is significantly higher than other parts of the world. Bangladesh has the highest percentage of child marriage in the region at 59 percent. Nepal follows at 40 percent.

This webinar will discuss evidence on the impact of WEE programs on child marriage in the region based on the findings of a new synthesis paper by SAR GIL. While programmatic evidence is only available pre-pandemic, the analysis is particularly relevant in the COVID-19 and climate crisis era of economic disruption. Discussants will offer lessons from implementation and strategies to avoid unintended negative consequences of programmatic efforts. The conversation will highlight the importance of preventing child marriage in strengthening human capital, a priority for South Asia.

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    Robin Mearns

    Practice Manager, South Asia Social Sustainability and Inclusion, World Bank


    Robin Mearns is the Practice Manager for South Asia Social Sustainability and Inclusion (SSAS1), looking after Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  Before joining SAR in September 2020, he spent five years as Practice Manager for social development (SSI) in AFR.  Robin joined the Bank in 1997 and has held various positions at HQ and in Country offices across AFR, EAP, LCR, and SAR regions. He has been a TTL for operations, policy, and analytics in land and natural resource management and community-driven development; global lead on the social dimensions of climate change; and sector/ program leader for sustainable development (which included INF) in AFR. Prior to joining the Bank, Robin spent a decade in research, teaching, and policy engagement on environment and development at IIED, London; and IDS, University of Sussex. He holds MA and Ph.D. degrees in Geography from the University of Cambridge and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Sussex.


    Maria Beatriz Orlando

    Lead Social Development Specialist, South Asia Social Sustainability and Inclusion, World Bank


    Maria Beatriz is a Development Economist and Specialist in social inclusion, labor markets and gender analysis. While at the World Bank she has contributed to gender equality and inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia through applied analytical work, coordination of efforts to include the gender and social inclusion lens in operations and policy dialogue. 


    Lori Heise

    Technical Director, Prevention Collaborative and Professor of Gender and Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


    Lori Heise is a Professor of Social Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), with a joint appointment in the School of Nursing. She has over 25 years of experience working in the areas of gender equity, social change and women’s economic and social empowerment. She is an internationally recognized expert on the causes and consequences of violence against women and is Co-investigator on “What Works to Prevent Violence,” a 6 year, multi-million-dollar project to reduce gender-based violence (GBV) in low and middle-income countries. Her current research focuses on preventing violence against women and children in the family, transforming gender norms, and serving as Technical Director of the Prevention Collaborative, a new global initiative designed to support evidence based GBV prevention programming in the Global South.


    Anaise Williams

    Researcher, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health & World Bank South Asia Gender Innovation Lab


    Anaise Williams is a consultant at the South Asia Gender Innovation Lab and a PhD Candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Anaise’s research covers the areas of gender norms, reproductive health, mental health, and gender-based violence. Her doctoral work focuses on the link between economic empowerment and intimate partner violence in low-resourced settings. She has experience working full-time in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Thailand with the University of Oxford, the IRC, and the Child Protection in Crisis Learning Network. She holds a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University.


    Rajan Subedi

    Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer, CARE Nepal


    Rajan Subedi is a sociology graduate and is working in CARE Nepal for more than five years in the area of adolescent girl’s empowerment. Rajan is competent in the area of Monitoring and Evaluation. He prefers to engage directly with the impact population i.e. adolescent girls so that he can obtain the factual learning to measure the result and also make interventions more adaptive. Changing harmful social norms to end child marriage is the area where he contributed most within CARE Nepal through Tipping Point initiative.


    Rawnak Jahan

    Tipping Point Team Leader, CARE Bangladesh


    Rawnak Jahan hold a Masters Degree in Law with experience working in NGOs, INGOs and Regional Organization in areas of development and women rights. Currently she is leading the Women and Girls Empowerment program as Acting Director. She has experience working with institutions to strengthen national response to VAW from different sectors (e.g. police, justice, social services, health sector). She has leaded and participated in different policy enactment movements in Bangladesh. She was actively involved with the activist group for the enactment and implementation of Domestic Violence Act. She was involved and contributed in development of Rules of Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2017 and National Plan of Action ending child marriage with different ministries and women rights organizations. She is an alumna of US state department. She represented the women and girls voice in different national and global platform. She is an active member of Bangladesh Bar Council and enrolled lawyer of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.