Child marriage, also known as early or forced marriage, is any formal marriage or informal union between a child under the age of 18 and an adult or another child.
1 in 5 child marriages
Girls are disproportionately affected, with 1 in 5 young women aged 20 to 24 years old married before their 18th birthday around the world.
Actually, that 1 in 5 rate indicates progress toward eliminating the practice because just ten years ago 1 in 4 girls were married as children. That is 25 million child marriages stopped.
UNICEF estimates in the last 25 years, some 68 million child marriages have been averted thanks to the efforts of community led projects which are tackling historical and cultural practices.
12 million child brides 2022
Despite these efforts, in 2022, 12 million girls became child brides.
Who is at risk of child marriage?
Girls who are at greatest risk of marrying early are also often the hardest to reach with protective services and support. They are often poor, live in rural areas or are otherwise marginalised. Often isolated from family, friends and their communities, they are often deprived of opportunities to pursue a livelihood and to thrive.
Impact of child marriage
Child marriage leads to intergenerational cycles of poverty. Child marriages result in early and unwanted pregnancies, lack of education opportunities and reliance upon others for long-term economic wellbeing.
It is a form of violence against women and for this reason it remains a signature and ongoing project of Zonta International. Zonta Caboolture advocates against child and forced marriage in Moreton Bay Region and Australia.
Read our previous blogs in the 16 Days of Activism series:
Day 1: What is the 16 Days of Activism
Day 2: Why doesn't she just leave him?
Day 3: Climate Justice
Day 4: How digitisation is creating more problems
Day 5: Supporting Survivors
Day 6: Bystander Action
Day 7: Calling on men and boys
Day 8: Challenging Misogyny
Day 9: Speak UP