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Untie the Knot: We Need to Talk about Child Marriage and Climate Change

Evoca Foundation and Equality Now have come together to mark International Day of the Girl Child 2023, observed every year on October 11. ‘Untie the Knot’, a short campaign film produced by Evoca Pictures, highlights the complex and irrefutable connection between the prevalence of child marriage and climate change and calls attention to the importance of a future in which every girl’s right to freedom is upheld. 

Child Marriage and Climate Change 

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.

Child marriage is a global concern. Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 – that is 23 girls every minute, nearly 1 every 2 seconds! More than 650 million women and over 150 million men already suffer the consequences of child marriage – including increased domestic violence, forced pregnancy, and negative health consequences, while being denied education and economic opportunity.

Women married as children have, on average, lower levels of education than those who marry after the age of eighteen, trapping them in a cycle of poverty, vulnerability to domestic and sexual violence, and poor health outcomes.

Equality Now views climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ that exacerbates sexual and gender-based violence in numerous ways, pushing people further into poverty, enflaming conflict over depleting natural resources, forcing migration, and compounding pre-existing gender discrimination. Climate change is also being recognized as a driver of child marriage as it depletes family resources, causing parents to “offload” their children through child marriage to ease their own economic burden.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “Child marriage is often a family’s coping mechanism in the face of instability. As long as climate disasters become more frequent and extreme, child marriage will persist.”

It is on all of us to highlight this link, address it, and enable actions designed to support girls and women living through some of the most vulnerable situations. Child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) violates the same rights that protect the freedom and well-being of children everywhere. 

When the rights of one girl are threatened and violated, the rights of all girls are threatened and violated. 

Support our campaign:

On International Day of the Girl Child 2023, Equality Now and Evoca Foundation are collaborating to raise awareness of the impact climate change has on increasing child marriage – to speak about how and why climate change drives child marriage, what the consequences are, and what can be done to address the problem.

‘Untie the Knot’ helps us understand how and why climate change compounds child marriage and creates a vision of a world in which every girl’s right to freedom is upheld. This short film, produced by Evoca Pictures in partnership with Equality Now, calls attention to the complex connection between climate change and the prevalence of child marriage. As climate disasters become more frequent and extreme, families resort to desperate coping mechanisms, and girls all over the world lose the right to forge their own horizons: to go to school, to build careers, to choose if, when or who they marry. On International Day of the Girl Child 2023, “Let’s grant our girls the dreams they’ve sought – brighter futures, as they untie the knot.”

To participate in this campaign, we encourage you to Watch, Share, and Explore! 

Watch the video, share it on your social media pages using #UntieTheKnot, and explore resources on the Evoca Foundation and Equality Now pages to understand the climate change and child marriage link better.

Contribute to grassroots action

To meaningfully support the end of child marriage and climate change-related rights violations, we encourage you to read more about our partner organizations working to change things on the ground. 

Below, you can explore their work and the options they offer to strengthen their projects further. We encourage you to look at their programs and activities to find out the specifics of how to join the work.

  • Joy For Children Uganda Since 2005, Joy For Children Uganda has been championing the rights of all children to live peacefully & without exploitation, to benefit from quality free education, to thrive in economic security & justice, and to prosper with access to clean water, good health care, & nutrition.
  • Unchained At Last, USA Unchained At Last is a survivor-led nonprofit organization dedicated to ending forced and child marriage in the United States through direct services for survivors and systems change. Unchained at Last leads the National Coalition to End Child Marriage in the US.
  • People Serving Girls At Risk (PSGR), Malawi PSGR is a frontline organization fighting the exploitation of girls and women and all its forms, like prostitution, sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and child marriages.

Learn more about the link between climate change and the rise in child marriage and the EN x Evoca Foundation Collaboration.