Child marriage around the world:

Child marriage around the world:


In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 17% are married before they turn 15.

The prevalence of child marriage varies widely from one region to another, with figures as high as 76% in the North West region and as low as 10% in the South East.

While data shows a 9% decline in the prevalence of child marriage since 2003, action is needed to prevent thousands of girls from being married in the coming years.


Poverty, poor educational attainment and strong social and religious traditions are drivers of child marriage in Nigeria.

Education is a strong indicator of whether a girl will marry as a child. 82% of women aged 20-24 with no education were married by the age of 18, as opposed to 13% of women who have at least finished secondary education.

Legal age of marriage

The Nigerian Constitution does not establish a minimum age of marriage. The Child Rights Act, which was passed in 2003, sets the age of marriage at 18 years-old. However, only 23 of Nigeria’s 36 states have taken concrete steps to implement the minimum age of marriage.

National initiatives to end child marriage

In May 2015, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act was adopted to address the issue of female genital mutilation/cutting and other harmful traditional practices such as child marriage.


  • UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2015
  • UNFPA, Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage, 2012
  • UNFPA, Nigeria: Child marriage country profile, 2012

UNICEF 2015 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2015 % Married by 18

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.

More from Nigeria

  • I will advocate for legislation against child marriage, says Nigerian First Lady (Leadership)
  • Deep divisions over Nigerian child bride on murder charge (Global Post)
  • Nigeria child bride “poisons older husband” (BBC News)

Reports relevant to Nigeria