UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage

Driving action to reach the girls at greatest risk

Adolescent girls
UNFPA-UNICEF Nepal/2018/KPanday

The challenge

The girls at greatest risk of early marriage are often those hardest to reach. They come from poor families, marginalized groups or rural areas. They are also more likely to be out of school than their unmarried peers, robbed of the opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential. Child marriage can lead to further isolation from family, friends and communities, and threaten girls’ livelihood and health.

In 2016, UNICEF, together with UNFPA, launched a global programme to tackle child marriage in 12 of the most high-prevalence or high-burden countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.

The solution

Global momentum towards ending child marriage has never been stronger, with several resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council urging countries to increase investments in eliminating the practice.

The UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage promotes the rights of adolescent girls to avert marriage and pregnancy, and enables them to achieve their aspirations through education and alternative pathways. The Global Programme supports households in demonstrating positive attitudes, empowers girls to direct their own futures, and strengthens the services that allow them to do so. It also addresses the underlying conditions that sustain child marriage, advocating for laws and policies that protect girls' rights while highlighting the importance of using robust data to inform such policies.

The Global Programme is generously supported by the Governments of Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the European Union, as well as Zonta International.

Some notable results from 2017 show:

  • In Bangladesh, some 68,000 adolescents received counselling and gender-responsive health services thanks to 70 newly established health service centres within existing public facilities.
  • In Ghana, the National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage, the Adolescent Pregnancy Strategy and the Government’s Free Senior High School Policy strengthened the environment for protecting girls’ rights.
  • In Uganda, 27,000 adolescent girls strengthened critical skills through school clubs and Go Back to School campaigns, as well as life-skills and financial literacy training. This enabled them to understand their rights and make informed decisions.
  • In Yemen, 100,000 community members, leaders and religious imams learned about the benefits of delaying marriage and keeping adolescent girls in school through awareness-raising sessions.
Adolescent girls and boys in Uganda learn skills to help them exercise their rights.
UNICEF/UN0203503/Nakibuuka
Adolescent girls and boys in Uganda learn skills to help them exercise their rights.

The Global Programme holistically works to achieve results for girls by bringing together the sectors for education, child protection, communication for development, gender, health – including sexual and reproductive health – and water and sanitation. Leveraging partnerships to produce scalable and meaningful change, the Global Programme builds the capacities of governments and non-government organizations while engaging with civil society – including faith-based organizations, academia, the private sector and members of the global network Girls Not Brides – for more harmonized action and accountability.

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Resources

Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage Annual Report 2018

In 2018, UNFPA, UNICEF and partners – including young people – leveraged investments to reach over 3 million girls and close to 14 million community members in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia with information, skills and services related to ending child marriage.


Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage Country Profiles 2018

Building on a global theory of change, the 12 Global Programme implementation countries employed country-specific strategies to tackle child marriage in their own contexts.


Technical Note on Gender-Transformative Approaches in the Global Programme to End Child Marriage, Phase II

This summary for practitioners provides practical guidance on how to translate commitments to gender equality into action.


Evaluation of the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage (report and annexes)

Independent evaluation of the Global Programme phase I (2016–2019).


Evaluation Summary of the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage (English, French, Spanish, Arabic)

Summary brief of the independent evaluation of the Global Programme phase I (2016–2019).


Voices of Change

This catalogue highlights stories from some of the girls, families and community members who have been reached by various interventions to end child marriage, supported by the Global Programme.


Turning Commitments into Solid Actions (English, French)

This brochure highlights key results from the twelve implementation countries of the Global Programme in 2018.


Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage Phase II Design Workshop

The Phase II (2020–2023) design workshop report compiles learnings from the first phase of the Global Programme (2016–2019) and other programmes to end child marriage, discusses areas for strengthening the programme and presents commitments made by UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women to accelerate action to end child marriage.


Investing in Knowledge for Ending Child Marriage

This report showcases research produced or supported by the Global Programme from 2016 to 2017.


Let’s End Child Marriage (English ǀ French)

This brochure highlights key results from the twelve implementation countries of the Global Programme in 2017.


Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage Evaluability Assessment

This assessment determines to which extent progress towards objectives of the Global Programme can be readily and reliably measured, monitored and evaluated.