Child marriage affects millions of children under the age of 18 every year, preventing them from living a productive life. Perpetuated by cultural norms, poverty, and lack of access to education, child marriage not only affects the lives of those who are married, but also their families and communities. An estimated 10 million girls are married every year before they reach the age of 18. In the developing world, 1 in 7 girls is married before her 15th birthday, with some child brides as young as 8 or 9.
The consequences of child marriage are severe. National and international indicators on maternal health, education, food security, poverty eradication, HIV/AIDS, and gender equality are all negatively correlated with high child marriage rates. Child brides are under great pressure to prove their fertility, which often results in pregnancies when their bodies are not yet ready, resulting in greater maternal and newborn morbidity. Married girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than married women in their 20s. They are also more likely to experience complications of childbirth including obstetric fistula and hemorrhaging. Child brides are also at greater risk for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases due to their inability to reject unsafe sexual practices.
Recognizing that efforts to end child marriage require a collaborative approach, USAID is working in partnership with international organizations and the private sector while concurrently supporting the voices of change agents at the national, local, and community levels seeking to change attitudes and motivations that perpetuate the practice of child marriage. Source: USAID