Think piece

Social and gender norms and child marriage: A reflection on issues, evidence and areas of inquiry in the field

Author: Margaret E. Greene , Ellen Stiefvater
Published by: ALIGN
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The production of scholarly and programmatic pieces related to social norms and child marriage has increased as interest in social norms has grown. While social norms are not yet consistently understood or integrated in all relevant work, there is a widening array of literature that engages with child marriage as a product of social norms at least to some degree. This literature includes the social science research focused on how social norms relate to behaviour and how they are transmitted, studies documenting the practice and prevalence of child marriage and the array of negative health and development outcomes associated with the practice, evaluations of interventions designed to prevent child marriage, and tools developed for measuring social norms and programme impacts.

Rather than systematically reviewing these literatures, here the authors try to move the conversation forward by synthesising the collective contributions these pieces make to our understanding of social norms and child marriage, identifying trends and gaps, highlighting key resources, and offering some analytical perspective. This discussion piece is based on a literature search and interviews with researchers and practitioners working in the area.