If you thought child marriage was only a problem faced by Indian girls and women who lose their agency, rights and prospects because of this evil practice, heres some news for you. Child marriage is a global issue. According to data by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), globally, one in every five girls is married off before the age of 18 years. In developing and underdeveloped nations, this number is at least double, leading to 40 per cent of girls being married off before turning 18, and 12 per cent of girls married before turning 15!Given the magnitude of this problem, its important to understand that not only is child marriage a major human rights violation, but also remains widespread despite laws against it in many nations, including India. Not only are the prospects of education and a career lost for girls married off during their childhood, but these girls also face a higher risk of teenage pregnancies and health complications arising from it. Most of these girls also fall prone to intergenerational poverty and other social issues. The mental health aspect of child marriage is also more clearly understood in recent times, with some studies showing that girls who are victims of child marriage face a greater risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety,There are, thankfully, activists around the world who have taken up the fight against child marriage in their own countries. To eliminate child marriage from the world, amplifying the voices of these women is critical. Here are a few women activists working against child marriage you should know.Sizane NgubaneThis 74-year-old South African activist, who passed away in 2020 due to COVID-related complications, started her powerful movement against child marriage in 1990. Her Rural Womens Movement was started because Ngubane feared that daughters and widows in the rural areas of South Africa would be evicted from their homes once their fathers or husbands died. In 1998, Ngubane was invited by a village leader in the area of KwaZulu-Natal to eliminate the practice of child marriage in the local community, and since then, she has focused primarily on this issue that endangers the life and rights of girls. Given the findings of the Commission for Gender Equality 2018, which reveals that at least 91,000 children of school-going age in South Africa are married off, the work that Ngubane did was vital, and is now being carried on by women she inspired in South Africa and beyond.Kriti BhartiOne of Indias most successful campaigners against child marriage, Bharti runs a one-woman hotline to provide escape and support to girls and boys at risk of getting married off before the age of 18 in Rajasthan. But, instead of preaching against the practice at rallies or seminars, Bhartis approach is more legal and direct. She builds cases against such marriages and appeals to the courts to provide annulments. The first such annulment she got was in 2012, and she has since managed to get more than 36 such illegal unions cancelled. Bhartis nonprofit, the Saarthi Trust, also works to educate young adults and children about this social evil, so that they can be empowered to fight against it themselves.Kudiral Abiola, Temitayo Asuni Susan UboguThe legal age of marriage in Nigeria, like in India, is 18 years. And yet, surveys have found that around 22 million girls are married off before they reach this legal age, which makes Nigeria one of the African nations with the highest number of child brides. This happens because Section 29 in Nigerias constitution provides a loophole by stating that any woman who is married shall be deemed of age. Abiola, Asuni and Ubogu founded Never Your Fault, a non-profit, in 2018 to end child marriage in Nigeria by tackling Section 29 and educating people on the impact child marriage on young brides. The trio also started a campaign called RaiseTheAge in 2018, calling for the government to increase the age of consent in Nigeria from 11 years to 18 years.Memory BandaBanda hails from Malawi, a country that has the 12th highest rate of child marriage in the world, with around 42 per cent of girls getting married before they turn 18. Bandas sister, who was 11 at the time, was forced to become a child bride, spurring her activism against this social evil. Banda started her work with Let Girls Lead, a girls empowerment network in Malawi. Apart from raising awareness, the organisation also runs a project called I Will Marry When I Want To, which collects letters written by girls articulating their dreams for the future. The letters were turned into a formal petition in 2015 to raise the legal age of marriage in Malawi. Banda has also founded the Foundation for Girls Leadership to empower girls with leadership skills so that they are enabled to protect their own rights.Shalini ChauhanAt the young age of 17 years, Chauhan stopped her own marriage, thereby starting her activism against child marriage at her own home and community. Since then, Chauhan has stopped over 12 child marriages in her own community, helped 25 children enrol in school, and obtained birth certificates for over 2,500 children in her community so that their legal age can be proved to prevent further instances of child marriages. Chauhan has been working with Plan International as a youth volunteer and child activist since 2010, has won a Plan India Impact Award, and has also been honoured by the government of Uttar Pradesh for her contributions.