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What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

There is no publicly available government data on child marriage in Ireland.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.

There is limited information on child marriage in Ireland.

What has this country committed to?

Ireland has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ireland mentioned its national policies designed for achieving target 5.3 (called One World, One Future and The Global Island) in its 2018 Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum, the mechanism through which governments report progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ireland co-sponsored the following Human Rights Council resolutions: the 2013 procedural resolution on child, early and forced marriage, the 2015 resolution on child, early and forced marriage, the 2017 resolution on recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts, and the 2019 resolution on the consequences of child marriage. In 2014, Ireland also signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Ireland co-sponsored the 2013, 2014, and 2018 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage.

Ireland ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2016 the UN Child Rights Committee recommended that Ireland remove all exceptions in the Family Law Act, 1995, that enable marriages to take place under the age of 18.

Ireland has ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (known as the Istanbul Convention), which considers forced marriage a serious form of violence against women and girls, and legally binds state parties to criminalise the intentional conduct of forcing an adult or child into a marriage.

In 2019, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, Ireland committed to end gender-based violence through the implementation of the Second National Strategy (2016-2021), and through Ireland’s international development co-operation.

At the London Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

In recent years Ireland has made gender equality a priority in its international development co-operation and foreign policy. Preventing and responding to all forms of gender-based violence (SDG 5.2) and harmful practices (SDG 5.3) are a core priority for Irish Aid (Ireland’s overseas development programme), who provides funding for international NGOs working on child marriage, such as Plan International Ireland and ActionAid Ireland.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Family Law Act 1995 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However individuals may marry before 18 for “serious reasons” with the permission of the court.

In addition, the Domestic Violence Act 2018 criminalises the act of forcing someone to enter into a ceremony of marriage, or removing a person from the country for such purposes.


ActionAid Ireland, ActionAid’s Work to End Child Marriage, [website], (accessed February 2020).

Council of Europe, Details of Treaty No. 210. Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, [website], 2014, (accessed February 2020).

Department of Justice and Equality, Forced marriage, [website], (accessed February 2020).

Girl Summit 2014, The Girl Summit Charter on Ending FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage, [website], 2015, (accessed February 2020).

Government of Ireland,Ireland: Voluntary National Review 2018. Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, 2018, (accessed February 2020).

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed February 2020).

Nairobi Summit, Intensifying our efforts for the full implementation of ICPD Programme of Action, [website], 2019, (accessed February 2020).

Plan International Ireland, End Child Marriage, [website], (accessed February 2020).

UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the combined third and fourth periodic reports of Ireland,2016, p.6, (accessed February 2020).

UN Women, Ireland vows gender equality a foreign policy priority in the push for the Sustainable Development Goals (updated), [website], 2016, (accessed February 2020).

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2020).

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

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