CHILD MARRIAGE is any formal marriage or informal union where one or both of the parties are under 18 years of age.

Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18.
That is 28 girls every minute.
1 every 2 second.

CHILD MARRIAGE AROUND THE WORLD

Child marriage is a truly global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicity. Child brides can be found in every region in the world, from the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to Europe.

Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were first married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2016). It is based on Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and other national surveys, and refers to the most recent year available during the period 2008-2014.

Women aged 20 to 24 years old who were married before they were 18

Source: UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016

At its heart, child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that girls and women are somehow inferior to boys and men.

Child marriage is a complex issue. Poverty, lack of education, cultural practices, and insecurity fuel and sustain the practice.

But drivers will vary from one community to the next and the practice may look different across regions and countries, even within the same country.

GENDER INEQUALITY

In many communities where child marriage is practised, girls are not valued as much as boys – they are seen as a burden on their family. Marrying your daughter at a young age can be viewed as a way to ease economic hardship by transferring this ‘burden’ to her husband’s family. 

Child marriage is also driven by patriarchal values and the desire to control female sexuality, for instance, how a girl should behave, how she should dress, who she should be allowed to see, to marry, etc.

Families closely guard their daughters’ sexuality and virginity in order to protect the family honour. Girls who have relationships or become pregnant outside of marriage are shamed for bringing dishonour on their family. Learn More

HOW CAN WE END CHILD MARRIAGE?

In recent years child marriage has gained increasing prominence on international and national development agendas. Today, we have a unique opportunity to act on this momentum and accelerate our efforts to help change the lives of girls and young women all over the world.

Ending child marriage requires work across all sectors and at all levels. It requires us to understand the complex drivers behind the practice in different contexts and adapt our interventions accordingly.

SCOEN is working out theories to demonstrate the range of approaches needed to address child marriage, and crucially highlight that everyone has a role to play. Within which stresses the importance of long-term, sustainable interventions that are coordinated, well-resourced and the result of shared learning Learn More