PESHAWAR: Blue Veins, a non-governmental organization and Pakistan Education Champion Network, organized a research launching ceremony in Peshawar to share the findings of the research conducted on Girls’ Education, Child and Forced Marriages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to a press release issued here on Thursday, the qualitative study highlights multi-level challenges associated with girls’ education and found child marriages and associated socio-economic vulnerabilities as one of the key contributing factors in secondary school dropout. The research was conducted by Blue Veins and Pakistan Education Champion Network in collaboration with Women Parliamentary Caucus WPC Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Child Protection and Welfare Commission, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women KPCSW. The research aimed to focus on identification on the barriers to Girls’ Education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and how child and early marriages affects girls’ enrollment, retention, and dropout of education especially at the secondary level. The speakers and participants recognizing the efforts of Blue Veins and importance of research findings, called for multi-sectoral and strategic response to address the invisible underlying factors related to both girls’ education and the practice of child marriages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, Minister for Labour, Culture, Human Rights, and Parliamentary Affairs who also leads technical Committee on Girls’ Education and Child Marriage said: “The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is committed to the economic, political, and social empowerment of women and girls, especially those living in marginalized settings.” “We are in the process to bring provincial legislation raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 and curbing the issue so that girls’ enrollment and retention in secondary education can be strengthened.” He added. MPA Shagufta Malik of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly said that “Improving girls’ education and ending child marriages is a development agenda. WPC of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is very much committed beyond the party lines to prioritize girls and women empowerment and protection of rights on the legislative agenda.” Dr. Riffat Sardar, Chairperson Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women said that “Education has the potential to play a pivotal role in enabling countries to break out of the early marriage trap. Overcoming the socio-economic barriers to increased access to education is critical to empower women and girls to lead, influence and inspire the world for sustainable development.” Muhammad Ijaz khan, Acting Chief, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Commission Government of KP said “Investing in girls’ education can have a tremendous impact on reducing child marriage and therefore reducing poverty for families, communities, and the country. We are working to address the gendered factors that stand in the way of a girl’s education and discourage early marriage through legislative reforms to make empowerment a reality for millions of girls’ province-wide.” While addressing the participants– Sana Ahmad Program Coordinator Blue Veins shared that “Child marriage has long been a barrier to girls’ education. Early marriage puts a stop to a girl’s education, as societal pressure does not allow her to attend school once married. “We hope this research will provide valuable evidence-based data and recommendations and serve as an important guiding document for all the policy stakeholders to reform policy-making and address the cross-cutting issues related to girls’ education and child marriages.” she added.