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Computer Science student elevates petition to ban child marriage

13 June 2019

Using social media algorithms

Computer Science student and STEM Ambassador, Joshua Whyte, came up with a marketing strategy using social media algorithms to raise awareness of a petition to ban child marriage in Nigeria.

According to a 2018 UNICEF report, more than a third of girls in Nigeria end up in child marriages, and with 22 million married before the age of 18, the nation has among the highest number of child brides in Africa.

Nigerian girls Kudirat Abiola, 15, Temitayo Asuni, 15 and Susan Ubogu, 16, set up a non-profit organisation called ‘It's Never Your Fault’ with the tagline ‘A not-for-profit trying to make a difference in the world’. They chose the issue of child marriage as their first campaign: #raisetheage is calling for lawmakers to raise the age of consent from 11 to 18 years, a change they believe would criminalise child marriage in Nigeria.

The girls reached out to Computer Science student and STEM Ambassador, Joshua Whyte, to ask for his assistance with their cause. Joshua came up with a marketing strategy that takes advantage of social media algorithms to raise awareness of the petition.  He has been heavily involved in the project and the secondary school girls who reached out to him have been interviewed by CNN.

The change.org petition, which is addressed to the Federal Government of Nigeria, has already amassed more than 150,000 signatures and continues to gain momentum.

Dr Catherine Teehan, Cardiff’s Placement Officer for the School of Computer Science and Informatics, said "It is great to see computer science being used for the greater good and I am extremely proud of what Joshua and the team has achieved so far."

Joshua explained, it is “Truly one of my biggest achievements. Helping out with the project has been the highlight of my year and I will continue to provide support wherever I can.”

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