What role can parliamentarians play in ending child marriage?

Girl studying in Bodhgaya India. Photo credit: Graham Crouch | Girls Not Brides

An amended version of this blog was published in March 2015.

There is no single solution to child marriage but a strong, coherent, and comprehensive legal and policy framework is part of the answer. Parliamentarians are in a privileged position to push for strong laws and policies, yet they are often overlooked as drivers of change.

That is why in 2015 Girls Not Brides developed a toolkit outlining the role of parliamentarians in ending child marriage and how they can drive change on the issue. We have now revised the toolkit in order to incorporate and reflect governments’ global commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals and target 5.3 to end child marriage by 2030.

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What’s in it?

  • An overview of child marriage, including its global prevalence, causes and impact
  • Existing international legal instruments that prohibit child, early and forced marriage
  • Concrete examples and recommendations on how parliamentarians can take action, not only in Parliament but in their constituencies and internationally

Parliamentarians: you can champion laws & policies to end child marriage

Often the focus of ending child marriage in a country is on ensuring the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years old. But we need a broader set of laws and policies to protect girls at risk of child marriage, support married girls and ensure they fulfil their potential.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), governments around the world have committed to ending “all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage” by 2030. Now more than ever, we need parliamentarians to make sure this target becomes a reality.

What can parliamentarians do?

  • Call for the adoption, strengthening and implementation of laws and policies on child marriage
  • Support the implementation of the SDG target 5.3 to end child marriage by 2030. Have you signed the Global declaration to end child, early and forced marriage? Sign it here.
  • Budget for ending child marriage
  • Be accountable and demand accountability for national, regional and international commitments
  • Collaborate with others and be opinion leaders

You will find more suggestions in our revised toolkit.

Parliamentarians: connect with civil society!

We invite parliamentarians to connect with Girls Not Brides members in their countries to learn more about the local situation and the work they are undertaking.

Girls Not Brides is affiliated with various parliamentary networks that may be able to support your work on child marriage and provide a global network of peers working on the same issues: Parliamentarians for Global ActionEuropean Parliamentarians with Africa and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. If you would like to be put in touch, please contact Matilda Branson: Matilda.Branson@GirlsNotBrides.org.

Civil society: how you can work with parliamentarians

We encourage civil society organisations to reach out to their parliamentarians with this toolkit. We have developed a brief user guide for Girls Not Brides members containing tips and ideas on how to engage parliamentarians, which you can download here.

Call for success stories

Do you have any success stories or lessons learned on parliamentarians effectively addressing child marriage? Please get in touch as we’d love to show that change is possible. Contact Matilda Branson: Matilda.Branson@GirlsNotBrides.org.