8 things to read on child marriage and climate change for World Environment Day 2021
The world is facing a climate crisis. According to academic journal Nature, global temperatures that drive extreme weather such as droughts, cyclones and wildfires are expected to increase between 1.5°C and 5°C by 2100. These are challenges faced by our natural world and the human population globally, with up to 700 million people predicted to migrate because of climate change and land degradation by 2050.
For communities affected by child marriage, natural hazards and extreme weather caused by climate change can mean greater vulnerability and heightened risk of girls being married as children. Climate change is tipping the balance for some families who are already on the brink, by exacerbating poverty, insecurity and lack of access to education – all factors that can increase rates of child marriage.
Currently, the evidence on links between climate change and child marriage is limited to region-specific, disaster-specific or anecdotal reports. The gap in global research and evidence also risks leaving girls' and communities’ voices out of the programmes and policies that can protect them.
There is still time to avert this crisis and lessen the risk to girls. This year, the world has the opportunity to move towards greater gender equality through the Generation Equality Forum, and a restored environment through the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. But global processes alone are not the solution – the work of communities, grassroots organisations and individual activists is critical for change to happen at all levels, and to ensure social change on both child marriage and climate change.
Many of our member organisations work at the intersection of climate change and gender inequality, and see the effects and impacts of the environmental crisis within the communities they work in.
For World Environment Day – 5 June 2021 – we’ve put together a selection of resources and blogs on the climate crisis and its impacts on child marriage to highlight the importance of dovetailing work on both these important issues.
1. Ending child marriage and supporting climate justice are crucial for gender equality
193 countries have signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the target of gender equality by 2030. We know gender equality is not possible while 12 million girls are still married as children every year. This brief from Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage outlines 6 issues that must be addressed to end child marriage, including feminist action on climate justice.
2. How is climate change driving child marriage?
In this Girls Not Brides blog, we look at the links between climate change and child marriage through the lens of Hidden Connections, a Bangladesh-based series of documentaries by Take Part and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
3. Future rising: The future of our planet depends on investing in quality education for girls
Girl Rising – a Girls Not Brides member organisation based in the United States – highlights the inextricable links between girls’ education and climate change and how we can all take action to support gender and climate justice in this poignant video.
4. Multi-sectoral approaches to addressing child marriage
At least eight of the Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved without ending child marriage. This means partnering across sectors is essential to making progress on a multitude of issues. In this article, ICRW explores the role of the agriculture, energy and environment sectors and their impacts on women and girls’ lives, including on child marriage.
5. Will climate change mean more child brides?
This article from Al Jazeera highlights how communities affected by natural disasters in Malawi are turning to child marriage as a way to survive, and how some of the lowest income countries are being impacted by climate-related disasters.
6. Greta Thunberg inspires young people in the movement to end child marriage
Prominent climate activist Greta Thunberg is one of the most famous young people in the world, known for her “Fridays for Future” school strike which has inspired millions around the world to take action on climate change. In this article from Thomson Reuters, young activists expressed what an inspiration she is for the movement to end child marriage.
7. Child marriage and humanitarian contexts
Natural disasters and extreme weather can create humanitarian and disaster contexts including famine and displacement. On our child marriage and humanitarian contexts webpage – and in our recent brief on the issue – we look at the key facts, drivers and consequences of child marriage in humanitarian contexts, including climate “shocks.”
8. Which countries are most threatened by climate change?
Countries most at risk of climate change impacts are also many of those with high rates of child marriage. According to the latest Global Climate Risk Index, the three countries most affected by climate change where girls and women are also affected by – or are at risk of – child marriage are Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Respectively in each country, 53%, 34% and 42% of girls are married before they turn 18 – a figure which threatens to increase with the effects of climate change. Explore our Child Marriage Atlas to find out more.
In the time it has taken to read this article 51 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 2 seconds