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Is an end to child marriage within reach?

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Despite witnessing a steady decline in child marriage during the last decade, multiple crises including conflict, climate shocks, and the ongoing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic are threatening to reverse hard-earned gains, warned the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

In its latest report — Is an End to Child Marriage within Reach? Latest trends and future prospects — Unicef said that one in five young women aged 20 to 24, were married as children, versus nearly one in four a decade ago.

“The world is engulfed by crises on top of crises that are crushing the hopes and dreams of vulnerable children, especially girls who should be students, not brides,” Unicef Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement.

“Health and economic crises, escalating armed conflicts, and the ravaging effects of climate change are forcing families to seek a false sense of refuge in child marriage. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that their rights to an education and empowered lives are secured,” she added.

Girls who marry in childhood face immediate and lifelong consequences. They are less likely to remain in school, and face an increased risk of early pregnancy, in turn increasing the risk of child and maternal health complications and mortality, Unicef notes.

The practice can also isolate girls from family and friends, and exclude them from participating in their communities, taking a heavy toll on their mental health and well-being.

The report cites global progress, driven predominantly by a decline in India, though this country is still home to the largest number of child brides worldwide.

Progress is also evident in other contexts, including in populous countries where the practice has historically been common, such as Bangladesh and Ethiopia, as well as in smaller countries with lower levels of child marriage that are moving closer to elimination, such as Maldives and Rwanda, the analysis says.

The experiences of these countries illustrate that progress is possible in a variety of settings, Unicef said.

Still, they tend to share common threads, including improvements in economic development, poverty reduction, access to employment and educational attainment at the secondary school level.

Here are key facts about child marriage in South Asia:

  •  Around one in four young women in South Asia were first married or in union before their 18th birthday;
  •  Child brides in South Asia are more likely to live in poor households, have less education and reside in rural areas;
  • Three in four child brides in the region give birth while they are still adolescents;
  • The vast majority of child brides in South Asia are out of school, and
  • South Asia leads the world in progress on reducing child marriage.

Worldwide, conflict, climate-related disasters, and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 – especially rising poverty, income shocks, and school dropout – are helping to increase the drivers of child marriage while also making it difficult for girls to access health care, education, social services, and community support that protect them from child marriage, the report says.

As a result, girls living in fragile settings are twice as likely to become child brides as the average girl globally, it notes.

For every ten-fold increase in conflict-related deaths, there is a seven per cent increase in the number of child marriages. At the same time, extreme weather events driven by climate change increase a girl’s risk, with every 10 per cent deviation in rainfall connected to around a 1 per cent increase in the prevalence of child marriage.

Precious gains to end child marriage in the past decade are also being threatened by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the analysis warns. It is estimated that the pandemic has already cut the number of child marriages that could have been averted since 2020, by one-quarter.

“We’ve proven that progress to end child marriage is possible. It requires unwavering support for vulnerable girls and families,” added Ms. Russell. “We must focus on keeping girls in school and making sure they have economic opportunities.”

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The captain of the Pakistan Shaheens’ white-ball team has been announced for the upcoming trip to Darwin.

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Mohammad Haris, a wicket-keeper batsman, has been chosen as the captain of Pakistan Shaheens for the two 50-over matches and nine-team Top End T20 series in Darwin, Australia. The matches will take place from 4-18 August.

Haris recently led Pakistan Shaheens in the ACC Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2023 in Colombo. In this tournament, Pakistan successfully defended their championship by defeating India with a margin of 128 runs.

The Pakistan Shaheens have already arrived in Darwin to play two four-day matches against Bangladesh ‘A’ on July 19-22 and July 26-29. Sahibzada Farhan is currently captaining the team in the longer format of the game.

Following the two four-day matches, the Shaheens will engage in 50-over matches against Northern Territory (NT) and Bangladesh ‘A’ on 4 and 6 August, respectively, prior to the start of the T20 series on 9 August.

The T20 competition includes additional teams such as ACT Comets, Bangladesh ‘A’, Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne Stars, Perth Scorchers, Northern Territory Strike, Adelaide Strikers, and Tasmania.

In addition, seven modifications have been implemented for the white-ball contests compared to the red-ball side.

Abdul Faseeh, Arafat Minhas, Arif Yaqoob, Jahandad Khan, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Imran Jnr, and Usman Khan are the replacements for Kamran Ghulam, Khurram Shahzad, Mehran Mumtaz, Mohammad Ali, Mubasir Khan, Tayyab Tahir, and Umar Amin.

The Pakistan Shaheens will participate in the Darwin series for the second consecutive year. In the previous year, NT Strike emerged victorious over Shaheens in the final of the Top End T20 Series with a margin of 46 runs. Subsequently, Pakistan Shaheens achieved a resounding victory over PNG by 224 runs and Northern Strike by 84 runs in the two One-day matches.

The white-ball squad of Pakistan Shaheens
Mohammad Haris is the captain of the team, and the other players in the squad are Abdul Faseeh, Arafat Minhas, Arif Yaqoob, Faisal Akram, Haseebullah (who is both a wicketkeeper and a batter), Muhammad Irfan Khan, Jahandad Khan, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Imran Jnr, Omair bin Yousuf, Sahibzada Farhan, Shahnawaz Dahani, and Usman Khan.

The personnel providing support to the players include Abdul Rehman as the head coach, Mohammad Masroor as the assistant coach-cum-manager, Mohammad Asad as the physiotherapist, Imranullah as the trainer, and Usman Hashmi as the analyst.

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Explanation: The increase in inflation in the United States would cause electricity costs in Pakistan to rise.

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Electricity contracts between Independent Power Plants (IPPs) and the federal government not only involve capacity costs, but also have a significant impact on the economy and the financial well-being of the population. These contracts are closely linked to the inflation rate and the value of the US dollar.

Startling disclosures have emerged regarding the exorbitant electricity tariffs in Pakistan. The Council of Economic and Energy Journalists Sage, representing the institute, provided a briefing to leading journalists in Karachi.

According to the information provided, the electricity rate component in Pakistan experienced a 253 percent increase from 2019 to 2024 as a result of inflation in America.

The data presented in the briefing indicates that the capacity charges in Pakistan were Rs3.26 per unit in 2019 and climbed to Rs10.34 per unit in 2024.

The capacity charges imposed on the public incorporate the effects of both US inflation and domestic inflation.

Due to the rise in the country’s interest rate, the interest payment for energy has climbed by 343% during a span of four years. Over the course of four years, the working capital of IPPs caused a 716 percent increase in the cost of power per unit.

The electricity rate has increased by 12 to 20 percent, with 70 percent of the charges being capacity charges.

SDPI experts recommended the government to adopt a centralised tariff policy rather than a universal electricity tariff strategy.

The power generation capacity amounts to 23,000 megawatts.

As a result of the increase in solar power generation in the country, the capacity charges will have an additional adverse impact on the residents.

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Business

Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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