Child Marriage, Adolescent Girls’ Health and the Global Financing Facility

Photo credit: Flickr / Graham Crouch
World leaders have just pledged $1 billion towards health and nutrition for the world’s poorest women and girls.

The commitment took place at the Global Financing Facility Replenishment in Oslo in November 2018.

This injection of new resources for the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child (GFF) demonstrates a commitment from a range of governments to prioritise the health needs of women, children and adolescents.

This money will sustain activities in current GFF countries. It will also help the GFF to expand to up to 50 countries who need to transform the financing of their health and nutrition services.

There is now an opportunity for civil society to influence how governments invest these resources.

What is the Global Financing Facility (GFF) and why is it relevant for child marriage?

We know that child marriage has huge impacts on the health of girls and their children.

Child brides experience higher rates of adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes, gender-based violence, malnutrition and increased maternal morbidity and mortality.

If governments act to prevent child marriage and seek to improve married and unmarried adolescent girls’ access to health services, we can dramatically improve the lives of millions of girls and children worldwide.

The GFF is a country-led mechanism to fill the funding gap for health programmes. It empowers governments to prioritise the health and nutrition of women, children and adolescents.

The GFF currently operates in 27 lower and lower-middle income countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, including many countries with high prevalence rates of child marriage.

Find out more about the link between child marriage and health

A 14-year-old girl carries her baby.

Credit: UNICEF/Vlad Sokhin.

How does the GFF work?

The GFF acts as a catalyst to mobilise funding, technical assistance and innovation on health at the country level.

It brings together key stakeholders in-country, including the government, parliamentarians, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society. These stakeholders develop a key set of national health priorities that are known as the ‘investment case’.

The investment case is then used by the government to develop a ‘costed investment case’, which outlines how funds will be directed where they are most needed to deliver against the health strategy. The government is encouraged to mobilise domestic, private and external resources to fund this new strategy, and it is supported by loans and grants from the GFF and the World Bank.

What role does civil society play in the GFF?

Civil society must play a role in helping to shape national governments’ policies on funding for health and nutrition.

By getting involved in national GFF processes to influence government policy on adolescent health, civil society has an opportunity to ensure that child marriage is considered when addressing girls’ health.

With unique insight into the health needs of local communities, civil society can input into the investment case and their expertise can ensure that governments consider child marriage when shaping policies and services to improve a girl’s health.

Civil society can also play a key role in holding the government to account for how well it implements its strategy and if it makes a difference to the health of adolescent girls.

Check out MamaYe’s toolkit for CSO engagement 

What this means for you

Here are some suggestions for how to get involved in the GFF in your country: