Girl’s hand being painted with henna
Child marriage

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

Did you know that each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18. That is 28 girls every minute, 1 every 2 seconds.

Child marriage happens in practically all countries, cultures, and religions. More than 700 million women, and over 150 million men, already suffer the consequences of child marriage. If we cannot get the numbers to drop soon, the global number of women married as children will reach 1.2 billion by 2050, with terrible consequences for the whole world. Child marriage looks different from one community to the next. Solutions to stop child marriage must be local and adapted to local needs and circumstances.

Why does child marriage happen?

Child marriage happens because of inequality between women and men, girls and boys, because of poverty, traditions, and insecurity.

Girl standing with her child, holding his hands.

Mariama was forced to marry when she was only eleven years old. Learn more about Mariama.

Child marriage must end because…

• It violates girls’ rights to health, education and opportunity. • It exposes girls to violence throughout their lives, and traps them in poverty.
• It directly hinders us reaching at least six of the Global Sustainable Development Goals. Global Goal Target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to end child marriage by 2030.

Mother and three daughters seen from behind

Swati from India was forced to marry at 15. She was violently abused and forced to work day and night by her husbands family, but finally escaped and hid in her home village, with her family. She says: ‘I will never go back, and I won’t let my sisters marry too young’.
Learn more about Swati.

How can we stop child marriages?

To create lasting change for millions of girls, we have to work together and stand up against child marriage around the world. This is already happening:

On a region level, the African Union and the South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children have launched initiatives to end child marriage and support married girls. And many countries are developing national action plans to end child marriage, in partnership with civil society, UN agencies and girls themselves.

Source: Girls not Brides and Unicef.


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