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Tackling child marriage in South Sudan has been an answer to prayer for schoolgirls in the country. This week, pray for our partner Food for the Hungry's work through local churches to tackle the root causes of child marriage and sexual and gender-based violence.

Sunday 18 February

South Sudan has the world’s fifth-highest prevalence of child marriage. And about a third of girls in the country become pregnant before turning 15, according to UNICEF. Pray for this harmful practice to come to an end, and for the health, wellbeing and protection of all girls in South Sudan.

Monday 19 February

When girls become pregnant before their bodies are ready, they often suffer complications during pregnancy and childbirth – endangering both the life of the mother and child. Pray for healing for those who have suffered physical and mental abuse by being forced into marriage too young.

Tuesday 20 February

In rural South Sudan, boys are more likely than girls to go to school, because families have fewer resources. Instead, girls often marry young in exchange for cows. Some girls bring their families 200 cows, which are later used as dowries to marry off their sons. Pray for this practice to stop and for girls to be valued as God values them, and that they are able to receive a complete education.

Wednesday 21 February

‘I have learnt about the equality of boys and girls, men and women – no child is more important,’ says 17-year-old Lul. Praise God for the training sessions and workshops which are bringing religious and community leaders, schoolchildren and families together to discuss the harm child marriage brings.

Thursday 22 February

For 14-year-old Nyamal, life as a teenage girl in South Sudan was becoming unbearable. After taking part in the Tearfund training, she learnt about the dangers of child marriage. Nyamal felt empowered to talk to her parents, who were in the process of agreeing for her to be married off to an elderly man. They listened and it changed their minds. Pray for open ears and hearts among other parents in South Sudan.

Friday 23 February

In Isaiah 61:1 it says, ‘[The Lord] has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners’. Listen to God’s challenge to us in this verse – a challenge relevant to the girls facing the consequences of child marriage. Consider how God might be calling you to respond.

Saturday 24 February

Tearfund is training local ‘gender champions’ in South Sudan to lead training sessions on reducing sexual and gender-based violence. We’ve also produced videos featuring women who have been able to break barriers and excel in life. The hope is that these sessions and resources will give girls positive role models and a vision for how they can grow up to achieve their God-given potential. Pray that this pilot project can extend throughout the country and beyond.

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