BLOG: Ending Child marriage – complex, intersectional and urgent


KIT at Girls not Brides launch

Girls not Brides, a global partnership against child marriage launched its Dutch chapter on the 8th of November 2016 with support from key NGOs in the Netherlands and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Hosted by Princess Mabel, the event highlighted the three child marriage alliances funded by the MOFA and the role they can play in tackling this social issue. Of the three, the Yes I do (YID)  programme, where KIT is the knowledge partner, played a key role in steering the conversation around the issue by introducing some preliminary findings.

The event witnessed the attendance of not only Dutch NGOs but also partner organisations and local offices that were present to show solidarity and contribute, demonstrating the added value of the partnership. Maryse Kok, advisor at KIT and lead researcher for YID, presented the stakeholders and audience with the preliminary findings from the baseline survey conducted across 7 countries: Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Yes I do – baseline study

Child marriage as a social problem does not exist in a vacuum and the YID baseline was able to capture this with its three pronged focus on teenage pregnancy, child marriage and female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C).

The figures presented played a valuable role in shaping the discussion that ensued. Each country’s context influenced how child marriage manifested and we saw different patterns that emerged. For instance, the preliminary findings suggest that for Kenya, undergoing FGM/C as an initiation rite gives young girls the social sanction needed to engage in (unsafe) sexual activity, which is followed by teenage pregnancy and often child marriage. In Mozambique and Indonesia, we found that young people get married as a result of wanting to avoid pre-marital sex. In addition, divorce rates among young people are also high and economic opportunities seem to play a role in determining this life trajectory. These correlations highlight the strong role of gender-unequal social norms as well as socio-economic circumstances.

Once a thorough analysis of the baseline will be completed, each country will be rated on the Child Marriage Acceptability Index, demonstrating the social acceptance of this practice across the 7 countries.

The numbers painted a stark picture and resonated with the audience’s experiences in those countries. However, these figures also proved to be surprising to several members present, which is telling of the gaps in knowledge that still exist. This vacuum of knowledge is what KIT aims to fill in this programme- by making these realities visible and providing a strong evidence base for NGOs to develop meaningful programmes. These findings have significant implications for programming and will determine how young people need to be reached over the next 4 years. It can also be used as a powerful tool for advocacy purposes.

The GNB partnership brings together NGOs at different levels to work towards a common vision. In this context, these findings will strengthen this collective voice by pointing out the complexities through which child marriage persists and the approach needed to bring an end to it.

Updated: Please read the Baseline reports here

Blog: Tasneem Kakal