Is an End to Child Marriage within Reach?

Latest trends and future prospects

May 5, 2023

The practice of child marriage has continued to decline globally. Today, one in five young women aged 20 to 24 years were married as children versus nearly one in four 10 years ago. Yet progress has been uneven around the world, and in many places the gains have not been equitable, leaving the most vulnerable girls behind. This year marks the halfway point to the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and when it comes to ending child marriage, a number of challenges loom large. Despite global advances, reductions are not fast enough to meet the target of eliminating the practice by 2030. In fact, at the current rate, it will take another 300 years until child marriage is eliminated.

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An estimated 640 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood
Nearly half of child brides live in South Asia (45 per cent) with the next largest share in sub-Saharan Africa (20 per cent), followed by East Asia and the Pacific (15 per cent) and Latin America and the Caribbean (9 per cent).  
India alone accounts for one third of the world’s child brides.
This share is equal to the next 10 countries combined, which account for a further third. The remaining third are spread across the world’s other 190+ countries.  
Declines in the level of child marriage are not occurring at a fast enough pace to reach the SDG target of eliminating the practice by 2030.
Overall, progress would need to be nearly 20 times faster to reach the target of ending child marriage by 2030.