It’s International Day of the Girl, and the best way to mark the occasion is by taking a stand against child marriage. It’s estimated that 64 million girls around the world are forced into marriage before the age of 18—some as young as 7 or 8 years old. Child brides are at a higher risk of being physically abused, contracting HIV and other diseases, and dying while pregnant or giving birth, and many of them never get a chance to finish school, or even start it. These are girls who could grow up to be the next Ada Lovelace, Peggy Whitson, Issa Rae, Julia Child, Katherine Johnson, or someone’s favorite grade school teacher, but are instead forced to stop their educations and marry men two, three, or four times their age.
We can learn some of the stories from the lives of these brave girls thanks to nonprofit organization CARE’s Tipping Point program, which helps fight early marriage to let girls grow up, go to school, get jobs, and maybe even have families, all on their terms and in their own time. Some photos from the program are currently on display at the U.S. Capitol, where hopefully they will spur members of Congress to take action and support global education for girls. You can see some of the photos here and then sign this petition to remind Congress to continue investing in foreign aid that supports women and girls.