Details | Girls Not Brides: Partnership to End Child Marriage, 2011


Estimated Total Value: $3,000,000

Commitment Duration: 2 years

Geographic Region: Asia; Africa; Latin America & Caribbean; Middle East

Countries: Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Burkina Faso; Central African Republic; Chad; Democratic Republic of Congo; Dominican Republic; Ethiopia; Eritrea; Guinea; Honduras; India; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Nepal; Nicaragua; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal


Members of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage will work together to enhance and strengthen efforts to end child marriage at community, local, national and global levels. Girls Not Brides will develop strategies to empower girls and local champions to raise their voice against child marriage. It will raise awareness of the harmful impact of child marriage by encouraging open, inclusive and informed discussions; facilitate learning and coordination between organizations working to end child marriage; and mobilize all necessary policy, financial and other support to end child marriage.

Girls Not Brides will also advocate for other actors - including governments, international multilateral organizations, donor and aid agencies, and research institutions - to join the global movement against child marriage.


The implementation of this commitment will start with the creation of a support office for Girls Not Brides, by December 2011. The team will be headed by an international coordinator and will be initially hosted in the offices of The Elders in London, UK.

Efforts to enlist new members will continue throughout the period, with the aim to reach a membership of at least 150 organizations running programs in at least 20 countries by December 2012.

Potential members for Girls Not Brides will be identified and approached through: previous and ongoing research on organizations that work to end child marriage or are interested in engaging in this field, and use of the members' networks.

In December 2011, a regional meeting of Girls Not Brides members will be organized in India. The members will be asked to share information about their activities, good practices and lessons learned. They will commit to work together to develop policy and communications strategies that will allow the partnership to promote better awareness of child marriage and develop better programs to address it at all levels.

On the basis of these strategic policy and communications plans, members of Girls Not Brides will advocate for donors, aid agencies, international NGOS and international multilateral organizations to increase their investment to end child marriage. Drawing on the particular strengths of individual member organizations, Girls Not Brides will use private advocacy, public campaigns, mobilization of traditional, cultural, religious and political leaders and targeted media work. Governments in at least ten of 25 high-prevalence countries will be urged to enact and effectively implement laws against child marriage. Research institutions will be encouraged to collect quality data on the circumstances of child marriage in at least ten of 25 high-prevalence countries.


Child marriage is a marriage under the law or a customary union in which at least one of the spouses is a child, i.e. a person below the age of 18 (as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child). It is a harmful traditional practice that affects millions of children, predominantly girls, every year. In the developing world, 1 in 3 girls is married before she turns 18 (UNICEF). Change is happening, but too slowly: at the current rate, 100 million more girls will become child brides in the next decade - that is about 10 million each year (Population Council).

Child marriage is a violation of girls' human rights, including the rights to life, liberty, self-determination and health. Child marriage puts these girls at great risk of disease, injury and death during early sexual activity and childbearing. In 2007, UNICEF reported that a girl under the age of 15 is five times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than a woman in her 20s. Child brides are also at much higher risk of pregnancy-related injuries such as fistula.

The negative consequences of child marriage directly hinder the achievement of six of the eight Millennium Development Goals. Child marriage usually marks the end of girls' schooling. Adolescent girls have dramatically higher maternal mortality than their slightly older counterparts. The babies of adolescent mothers are much more likely to die than infants born to women ages 20 and older. Child marriage increases girls' exposure to HIV, and as a consequence of their physical immaturity, an additional 100,000 girls each year live with the disability of fistula resulting from obstructed labor (UN, 2008). Young wives' low status in their marital households condemns them to long hours of drudgery, social isolation, greater risks of physical or sexual violence, and very little say over anything that affects them (Garcia-Moreno et al 2005). The children of young and poorly educated girls tend to do less well in school and to have lower earnings as adults, contributing to the transmission of poverty from one generation to the next. Without a strong strategy to end child marriage, it will be impossible to successfully realize the MDGs.