UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage

Driving action to reach the girls at greatest risk.

UNFPA-UNICEF Nepal/2018/KPanday

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.

UNICEF's response

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. 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.

Adolescent girls and boys in Uganda learn skills to help them exercise their rights.

Some notable results from 2018 show:

  • In Niger, nearly 62,000 adolescent girls participated in life-skills training, covering topics such as reproductive health, personal hygiene, gender-based violence, financial literacy and gender equality. As a result, 11,160 girls were referred to health centres, 853 cases of child marriage were cancelled or postponed, and 189 girls returned to school.
  • In Yemen, awareness-raising programmes reached over 70,000 people in an effort to change the norms and practices that perpetuate child marriage.
  • In Mozambique, 221,000 girls benefited from mentorship and other forms of support – including information and counselling on sexual and reproductive health, HIV and violence – in 1,500 safe spaces.
  • In India, initiatives to raise awareness of child marriage reached over 3.5 million people. In some programmes, girls learn storytelling and digital literacy to help them share their stories with wider audiences.

The Global Programme achieves results for girls by aligning key players in education, child protection, communication for development, 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.

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Last modified March 2020


Global Programme Phase II Programme Document (with Theory of Change and Results Framework)

This report outlines the focus and goals of Phase II of the Global Programme (2020-2023), based on learnings from programming and evidence from Phase I and beyond.

Ten Reasons to Invest in the Global Programme

There are many reasons for governments, foundations and organizations to invest in the Global Programme to End Child Marriage. In this brief we list the top ten.

Global Programme Engagement with Civil Society

This fact sheet presents the Global Programme’s understanding of and approaches to working with civil society.

Global Programme Advocacy Brochure: 2018: Turning Commitments into Solid Actions (English, French)

2017: Let’s End Child Marriage (English ǀ French)

These brochures highlight key results from the twelve implementation countries of the Global Programme in 2017 and 2018.

Publications Catalogue 2018-2019 and 2016-2017

These reports showcase research produced or supported by the Global Programme and other initiatives on ending child marriage led by UNFPA, UNICEF or UN Women from 2018 to 2019 as well from 2016 to 2017.

Evaluation of the Global Programme to End Child Marriage (report and annexes with a summary available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic)

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.

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.

Technical note on Adolescent Girls’ Empowerment

This note for practitioners provides practical guidance on planning, implementing and monitoring interventions for adolescent girls’ empowerment through life skills.

Technical Note on Life Skills Programmes for Empowering Adolescent Girls

This note for practitioners provides practical guidance on planning, implementing and monitoring life skills programmes to end child marriage.

Technical note on Gender Norms

This note for practitioners provides practical guidance on planning, implementing and monitoring interventions for promoting change in gender norms.

Technical note on Partnering with Men and Boys to End Child Marriage

This note for practitioners provides practical guidance on planning, implementing and monitoring approaches for partnering with men and boys in child marriage programming.

Global Programme to End Child Marriage (Annual Report 2018, Country Profiles 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. 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.

Global Programme 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.

Global Programme 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.