Breaking the chain: empowering girls and communities to end child marriages during COVID-19

World Vision International


Right now, there are 650 million child brides living in every region of the world. Child marriage is a fundamental violation of human rights, which severely impacts the global economy, peace and security, as well as hampering the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Poverty, fragility, unjust legal systems and harmful social norms and traditions are among the many factors that support its ongoing practice. Even in countries with laws intended to protect children from marrying before their 18th birthday, social and cultural norms supporting child marriage still exist and undermine any national laws.

Progress has been made over the last decade – an estimated 25 million child marriages were prevented – but there is still much more work to be done. Global projections of girls married by 2030 have shot up from 100 million to 110 million, based on the current estimates that an additional 10 million girls will now be married due to the COVID 19 outbreak. Last year alone (2020) saw the greatest surge in child marriage rates in 25 years. According to anecdotal data from World Vision's programmes, between March-December 2020, child marriages more-than doubled in many communities compared to 2019. The impacts of COVID-19 are severely hindering progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and targets related to eliminating child marriage and all forms of violence against children by 2030. 

The sustained wellbeing of children within families and communities is core to World Vision’s mission – with a strategic focus on reaching the most vulnerable. World Vision's global campaign It takes a world to end violence against children has been implemented in 65 countries, with national campaigns focused on ending child marriage in 21 of those countries. 

This report compiles research and data from four unique contexts – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Senegal and Uganda – where World Vision has been working to address the issue of child marriage. In each of these countries, case studies were developed using first-hand accounts, a desk review of available data and evidence of promising practices towards eliminating child marriage. 

A young girl is holding a book that says "Stay in School" outside in a garden
World Vision International
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