The global state of child marriage #GirlsNotBrides

February 16, 2017

     By Duncan Green     

OK, it’s finally happened, I’ve woken up with nothing to post – I’ve been on the road for the last two weeks, and it’s hard to keep feeding the blog between events, travel etc. So I thought I’d just repost the most powerful item from the 60 or so articles in my RSS feed today. Shanta Devarajan setting out the case for a Universal Basic Income was a strong candidate, but in the end I went with this on child marriage, because the video made me cry. By Darejani Markozashvili on the World Bank’s People, Deliberation, Spaces blog.

Child marriage is a violation of human rights and needs to be addressed worldwide by citizens, community organizations, local, and federal government agencies, as well as international organizations and civil society groups. Child marriage cuts across borders, religions, cultures, and ethnicities and can be found all over the world. Although sometimes boys are subjected to early marriage, girls are far more likely to be married at a young age.

This is where we stand today: in developing countries, 1 in every 3 girls is married before the age of 18. And 1 in nine girls is married before turning 15. Try looking at it this way: the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that if current trends continue, worldwide, 142 million girls will be married by 2020. Another prediction from a global partnership called Girls Not Brides suggests, that if there is no reduction in child marriages, the global number of child brides will reach 1.2 billion by 2050.

Why is this such a critical issue? Child marriage undermines global effort to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity, as it traps vulnerable individuals in a cycle of poverty. Child marriage deprives girls of educational opportunities. Often times, when girls are married at a young age, they are more likely to drop out of school and are at a higher risk of death due to early childbirth. According to the World Health Organizationcomplications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second cause of death for 15-19 year-old girls globally. 

In order to raise awareness about child marriage in the Middle East, a Lebanon-based organization, KAFA, produced this video as a social experiment.

According to the World Policy Centerin 7 countries, there is no nationally set minimum age of marriage. An additional 5 countries have the minimum age for girls to be married at age 13 or younger. Another 30 countries allow girls to be married at age 14 or 15.

Want to find out what the minimum age is of marriage for girls with parental consent? Check out the data from the World Policy Center:

child marriageUpdate: really liked the comment from Susan Watkins, who argues that this whole approach is mistaken – any reactions?


February 16, 2017
Duncan Green