A young women's hand with henna tattoos and a diamond ring. ©infinity21/shutterstock

Child marriage

Globally 12 million girls under 18 years of age enter formal or informal marriages every year. Child marriage increases girls’ risk of early and dangerous pregnancies, limits their formal and informal educational opportunities and increases their risk of poverty. 

Gendered social norms interact both with other norms and with underlying factors such as poverty and limited education and economic opportunities in different contexts to increase the likelihood of child marriage.

ALIGN resources explore insights from recent research on child marriage, effective approaches to changing norms around child marriage, and ways of measuring change.

Upcoming research

We are currently undertaking research on the following themes:

Child marriage in Afghanistan

In partnership with Afghan researchers, ALIGN is examining data on whether the Taliban takeover in 2021 has changed patterns of child marriage. The Taliban restrictions on women’s work and education are expected to increase child marriage as a negative coping strategy for poor families, and as the only option for girls.

Measuring child marriage

Prevalence of unions is a standard indicator, but how can we assess the more incremental steps to reducing child marriage? Ending child marriage is a long-term project that requires big shifts in attitudes and norms as well as poverty and inequality reduction. ALIGN is working on drawing together qualitative measures that show step-by-step changes in social norms, girls’ agency, and policy implementation, among others, to complement the quantitative measures that show changes in prevalence.