“Child marriage” is a global problem, affecting 15 million girls a year. Over the next ten years, more than 41,000 girls will be married off every day before age 18 if current trends continue.

 

What is "Child Marriage?"

"Child marriage," defined as a formal marriage or informal union before the age of 18, disproportionately affects girls around the world. It is a human rights violation that legitimizes abuse and denies girls' autonomy under the guise of culture, honor, tradition and religion. When young girls are forced to marry, they are essentially subject to state-sanctioned rape and are at risk of increased domestic violence, forced pregnancy and negative health consequences, while being denied education and economic opportunity.

Protecting Girls from “Child Marriage”

Since 1995, Equality Now has been working to create a safer, healthier world for girls by advocating for an end to "child marriage." Our report Protecting the Girl Child: Using the Law to End Child, Early and Forced Marriage and Related Human Rights Violations, looks at the whole life of a girl when examining “child marriage,” exploring the factors that contribute to it, e.g. female genital mutilation, and illustrating the impact on a young girl’s life. Equality Now calls on governments to enact and uphold laws that prevent child marriage and to address the gender inequalities that drive it. Globally, we advocate for 18 as the minimum age of marriage.

Through our Adolescent Girls’ Legal Defense Fund, we have taken on cases of child marriage and successfully helped get divorces for two young girls in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, respectively. Through our GENEROSITY of GIRLS Fund, we are supporting partners who recognize child marriage as a human rights violation and are working to remove the vulnerabilities that lead to girls being married off as children.

Get involved in our campaign to end the practice of "child marriage" and establish 18 as the minimum age of marriage.

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“Child marriage” is a global problem, affecting 15 million girls a year. Over the next ten years, more than 41,000 girls will be married off every day before age 18 if current trends continue.

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What is "Child Marriage?"

"Child marriage," defined as a formal marriage or informal union before the age of 18, disproportionately affects girls around the world. It is a human rights violation that legitimizes abuse and denies girls' autonomy under the guise of culture, honor, tradition and religion. When young girls are forced to marry, they are essentially subject to state-sanctioned rape and are at risk of increased domestic violence, forced pregnancy and negative health consequences, while being denied education and economic opportunity.

Protecting Girls from “Child Marriage”

Since 1995, Equality Now has been working to create a safer, healthier world for girls by advocating for an end to "child marriage." Our report Protecting the Girl Child: Using the Law to End Child, Early and Forced Marriage and Related Human Rights Violations, looks at the whole life of a girl when examining “child marriage,” exploring the factors that contribute to it, e.g. female genital mutilation, and illustrating the impact on a young girl’s life. Equality Now calls on governments to enact and uphold laws that prevent child marriage and to address the gender inequalities that drive it. Globally, we advocate for 18 as the minimum age of marriage.

Through our Adolescent Girls’ Legal Defense Fund, we have taken on cases of child marriage and successfully helped get divorces for two young girls in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, respectively. Through our GENEROSITY of GIRLS Fund, we are supporting partners who recognize child marriage as a human rights violation and are working to remove the vulnerabilities that lead to girls being married off as children.

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Working together to “end child marriage”

Equality Now is proud to be a member of Girls Not Brides (GNB), a global partnership of civil society organizations from over 70 countries committed to ending "child marriage." Together, members of Girls Not Brides elevate the issue to the global stage and advocate for laws, policies and programs that will create safer, healthier futures for girls around the world. 

In addition to membership in the GNB global advocacy group, GNB USA and GNB UK, Equality Now serves on the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations’ child marriage advisory group and contributed to its 2013 report, “Ending Child Marriage.” We also sit on the Steering Committee for the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. 

The UN Targets Child Marriage

The United Nations, human rights organizations and civil societies have all identified ending "child marriage" as an important step in ending poverty and promoting sustainable development for countries around the world. Thanks in part to our advocacy and that of our partners, ending child, early and forced marriage was been included in the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (Target 5.3). 

“No society can afford the lost opportunity, waste of talent or personal exploitation that child marriage causes.”
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA

Equality Now is also advocating for legal language to be included in a UN Resolution for Member States that sets 18 as the minimum age of marriage, and for strong language that illustrates the violence and discrimination that results from “child marriage.” The UN Resolution is expected to be released in 2016.

Read More: "Child Marriage" in the media

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Girls Not Brides

Working together to “end child marriage”

Equality Now is proud to be a member of Girls Not Brides (GNB), a global partnership of civil society organizations from over 70 countries committed to ending "child marriage." Together, members of Girls Not Brides elevate the issue to the global stage and advocate for laws, policies and programs that will create safer, healthier futures for girls around the world. 

In addition to membership in the GNB global advocacy group, GNB USA and GNB UK, Equality Now serves on the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations’ child marriage advisory group and contributed to its 2013 report, “Ending Child Marriage.” We also sit on the Steering Committee for the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. 

The UN Targets Child Marriage

The United Nations, human rights organizations and civil societies have all identified ending "child marriage" as an important step in ending poverty and promoting sustainable development for countries around the world. Thanks in part to our advocacy and that of our partners, ending child, early and forced marriage was been included in the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (Target 5.3). 

“No society can afford the lost opportunity, waste of talent or personal exploitation that child marriage causes.”
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA

Equality Now is also advocating for legal language to be included in a UN Resolution for Member States that sets 18 as the minimum age of marriage, and for strong language that illustrates the violence and discrimination that results from “child marriage.” The UN Resolution is expected to be released in 2016.

Read More: "Child Marriage" in the media