Madagascar has received $6.1 million from South Korea to save girls from early pregnancies and marriages.
The support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) comes following a Unicef research that revealed depressing data about girls in Madagascar.
“Girls’ education has made considerable progress in Madagascar. However, many also have unfortunately had to quit school earlier,” stated the South Korean ambassador, Mr Sang-woo Lim, at the signing ceremony at the Prime Minister’s palace in Mahazoarivo on Monday evening.
According to Unicef, girls in southern Madagascar were the most exposed to early marriage and pregnancy.
The situation in the persistent drought-hit area of Anosy was the most worrying, according to the research.
An estimated 70-80 per cent of children between two and 17 years in Anosy also faced extreme poverty.
One girl out of two in Madagascar engaged in sex before the age of 18, according to Unicef data.
Unicef said one girl out of three became a mother before the age of 18, while another one out of five was a victim of sexual violence by the same age.
The Unicef research was a four-year project, targeting around 200,000 teenagers, and was conducted in collaboration with the government.
Parents in Madagascar often paid more attention to boys’ welfare as opposed to girls.
Boys were considered the future pillars of the family and the natural successors of their fathers.
“Discrimination affecting girls and women currently is resulting in devastation in various countries,” regretted Mr Sang.