UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage
Driving action to reach the girls at greatest risk.
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.
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, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the European Union, as well as Zonta International.
Some notable results from Phase I (2016–2019) of the programme show:
- In Ethiopia, close to 490,000 adolescent girls have been members of adolescent clubs, where peer mentors provide them with training and information around sexual and reproductive health, legal services and child marriage reporting mechanisms. As a result, 24,785 child marriages have been cancelled or annulled.
- In Bangladesh, a national multimedia campaign for ending child marriage has reached over 190 million people across television, radio and social media, and received national and international awards for contributing towards positive social change.
- In Sierra Leone, close to 9,000 adolescent girls who had dropped out of school have been supported to return, by being provided money for school fees, uniforms, books and other supplies.
- In Yemen, over 10,000 adolescent girls, including already married girls, have accessed health and protection services, such as medical, legal and psychosocial support and access to shelters.
- In Nepal, close to 30,000 adolescent girls have participated in the social and financial skills training package ‘Rupantaran’, with over 65 per cent of the girls showing increased knowledge of and skills to exercise their rights after the training.
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.
Last modified September 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.
Advancing the Evidence Base on Strategies to End Child Marriage and Support Married Girls: Meeting Report
The Global Programme, together with WHO/the Human Reproductive Programme and Girls Not Brides, convened a meeting in October 2019 to take stock of progress made in addressing research priorities for preventing child marriage and supporting married girls and to identify an updated set of research priorities for the next five years.
This factsheet presents the Global Programme’s experiences in and plans for addressing child marriage in humanitarian settings in collaboration with development and humanitarian partners.
Responding to the need for more learning, exchange and guidance on how to address child marriage in the humanitarian-development continuum, the UNFPA UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage convened 30 experts at a consultation on child marriage in humanitarian settings in Amman, Jordan on 4–5 February 2020.
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.
This fact sheet presents the Global Programme’s understanding of and approaches to working with civil society.
This brief explains the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme’s technical support and advocacy for evidence- and rights-based legislative and policy reform, and public financing to end child marriage through seven steps.
These brochures highlight key results from the twelve implementation countries of the Global Programme in 2017 and 2018.
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).
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.
This note for practitioners provides practical guidance on planning, implementing and monitoring interventions for adolescent girls’ empowerment through life skills.
This note for practitioners provides practical guidance on planning, implementing and monitoring life skills programmes to end child marriage.
This note for practitioners provides practical guidance on planning, implementing and monitoring interventions for promoting change in gender norms.
This note for practitioners provides practical guidance on planning, implementing and monitoring approaches for partnering with men and boys in child marriage programming.
This technical note provides practical guidance for the application of key concepts and effective approaches to convergent programming to end child marriage and promote gender equality.
This technical note aims to promote a common understanding of key concepts and to provide guidance on approaches to working at scale in the Global Programme.
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.
This assessment determines to which extent progress towards objectives of the Global Programme can be readily and reliably measured, monitored and evaluated.
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.