UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage
Driving action to reach the girls at greatest risk.
The girls at greatest risk of child 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.
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 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, including sexual and reproductive health and social protection programmes. 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, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom, the European Union and Zonta International.
Some notable results from the programme in 2022 show:
In Nepal, 57,000 girls participated in life skills education, with 64 per cent of the girls aged 15-19 years old reporting to have increased self-efficacy and that they can negotiate the delay of marriage and speak up without fear after participating in the programme.
In Sierra Leone, over 60,000 community members participated in dialogues to promote gender equality, including specific sessions engaging men and boys on harmful masculinities, and sessions with traditional and religious leaders for consensus-building around ending child marriage. In a study on social norms in the country, 96 per cent of the respondents agree that child marriage should be discontinued and nine out of ten say that they now wish to live in a community where girls do not have to marry before turning 18 years old.
In Ethiopia, over 1,300 local women development groups have been supported to drive change and challenge harmful gender norms in their communities.
In Zambia, 1,244 community welfare assistant committees were established with the support of the programme, training committee members on case management that reached over 13,000 adolescents with child protection, health, education and other social services through referrals and follow-ups.
“Through the life skills training, as well as the group activities with other girls, I feel I have transformed into a new person. I realized my self-worth and have better self-esteem, and I now feel that I am a person that can achieve anything in life.”
Fatma, 17, internally displaced from Ibb, Yemen
The Global Programme achieves results for girls by aligning key players in education, child protection, social protection, social and behaviour change, gender, health and other sectors. The Programme builds the capacities of Governments and non-government organizations while engaging with communities and partners for more harmonized action and accountability.
Last modified July 2023
Phase III (2024-2030)
Phase II (2020-2023)
- Fighting the odds, catalyzing change: A Strategic Approach to Ending the Global Problem of Child Marriage (annual report 2021)
- Act now: Accelerating gender equality by eliminating child marriage in a pandemic (annual report 2020 and country profiles)
- Global Programme Phase I Report and country profiles (2016-2019)
Digital and technology-based interventions
- Review of technology-based interventions to address child marriage and female genital mutilation (with 13 case studies)
- Gender-Transformative Accelerator Tool
- Gender-Transformative Approaches in the Global Programme to End Child Marriage
- Adolescent Girls’ Empowerment
- Life Skills Programmes for Empowering Adolescent Girls
- Gender Norms
- Partnering with Men and Boys to End Child Marriage
- Leaving No One Behind
- Adolescent Girl-Responsive Systems
- Gender assessment of CSO partners
Social and Behavior Change
- Addressing Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings
- Preventing and Responding to Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings: The Global Programme Approach
- Adapting to COVID-19: Pivoting the Global Programme to Respond to the Pandemic
- Monitoring and Evaluation of Child Marriage Programmes During COVID-19
Policy and legal frameworks
- Child Marriage and the Law
- Seven Steps to Strengthening Legislation, Policy and Public Financing to End Child Marriage
Convergence and scaling up
- Convergent Programming
- Scaling Up Efforts to End Child Marriage: The Global Programme Approach
- Ensuring Value for Money
- Global Programme research strategy
- Publication Catalogues 2020-2021, 2018-2019 and 2016-2017
- Strategic Technical Assistance for Research (STAR) initiative to end harmful practices - partnership with UNICEF Office of Research Innocenti
- The Child Marriage Research to Action Network (the CRANK) - partnership with Girls Not Brides
- Evidence review: Child marriage interventions and research from 2020 to 2022
- Research spotlight: How to ensure efforts to address child marriage reach the most marginalized girls
- Research spotlight: Successful multisectoral and multilevel approaches to address child marriage
- Research spotlight: Child marriage in humanitarian settings and challenging gender norms to end child marriage
- Research spotlight: Gender-transformative and systems approaches to ending child marriage and promoting girls’ rights
- Scoping review: Evolution in the evidence base on child marriage
- Advancing the Evidence Base on Strategies to End Child Marriage and Support Married Girls: Meeting Report
- Global Consultation on Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings: Meeting Report