Though child marriage is an age-old tradition, the practice is becoming less common. Over the past decade, the proportion of young women globally who were married as children decreased by 15 per cent, from nearly 1 in 4 to 1 in 5. This means that, over the last 10 years, the marriages of some 25 million girls have been averted.
What drives progress in reducing child marriage among girls? A new report seeks to answer this question by assessing how child marriage patterns correlate with broader demographic, legal, economic and development trends. Understanding the breadth and depth of the factors that trigger child marriage or prevent its occurrence is important to further reducing and ultimately ending this harmful practice.
The girls shown here are among those who were able to avoid early marriage or are taking a stand against this harmful practice. Their stories are reminders of the potential that opens up when girls are free to pursue their ambitions and uphold their rights.
Kushma Kumari did not see child marriage and child labour as rights violations until she joined the Child Reporters Programme. Kushma was one of the reporters selected to anchor the Child Reporters YouTube series. Kushma dreams of becoming a doctor and working in the Indian Army.
“I’m not ready to get married yet. I’m interested in the idea and I even have a suitor. But first I prefer to dedicate myself to my future and my dreams of owning my own business. I want to open a boutique where women can buy textiles and clothes.” – Azima
Tseganesh Dansa wants to go to university and make her parents proud. She is happy that her parents support her education and made sure she didn’t get married at a young age.
© UNICEF Ethiopia/2020/Mulugeta Ayene
Rima Bera is high-spirited enough to face threats from her community for reporting on and preventing child marriages. She looks forward to continuing her good work.
“I want to tell the world that we girls are capable of doing many things that you thought we couldn’t. … We have the right to work and to education, the right to be protected from violence, the right to vote, and the right to be protected from early marriage and the right of choice when it comes to choosing the right partner.” – Ahed
For more information on progress towards ending child marriage access the report.