End Child Marriage - Equality Now

End Child Marriage Campaign

Child "marriage" is a global problem, affecting 12 million girls a year.


"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.


Since 1995, Equality Now has been working to create a safer, healthier world for girls by calling 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.

Our advocacy 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 (FGM), and illustrating the impact on a young girl’s life. Since releasing this report in 2014, there has been progress. Disturbingly, a few of the countries highlighted in our report have moved backwards from the goal of increasing the minimum age of marriage to 18, without exception. To view these updates click here.

Through our Adolescent Girls’ Legal Defense Fund, we have taken on cases 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."


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. Thanks in part to our advocacy and that of our partners, ending child, early and forced marriage has been included in the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (Target 5.3).