Photo credit: Landesa
Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2017 % 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 (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)
An estimated 23% of girls are married before their 18th birthday in Kenya.
Child marriage rates vary across regions, with the North Eastern and Coast regions having the highest prevalence rates, while the Central region and Nairobi have the lowest rates.
A high prevalence of HIV in Kenya means that young married girls are particularly at risk. In a study in Kisumu, 33% of married girls surveyed were infected with HIV as opposed to 22% for their sexually active, unmarried counterparts.
Plan have shown that many girls in rural parts of Kenya are often perceived by their families as either an economic burden or valued as capital for their exchange value in terms of goods, money and livestock. To justify these economic transactions, a combination of cultural, traditional and religious arguments are often employed.
Education is a key driver, as 67% of women aged 20-24 with no education married as a child, in comparison to 6% of women with secondary education or higher.
Women living in rural areas are twice as likely to be married under age 18 than women living in urban areas. This urban-rural divide has increased by 36% since 2003.
Legal age of marriage
In March 2014, the parliament adopted the Marriage Act 2014 which introduces a uniform minimum age of marriage, set at 18 for both women and men.
Importantly, the new legislation applies to all forms of marriage including Islamic and customary marriages.
Members In Kenya
- African Girl Child Development and Support Initiative (AGCDSI)
- African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)
- Akili Dada
- Amref Health Africa
- Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK)
- Chepngoror Education Foundation
- Coexist Initiative
- Daughters of Kenya
- Generation Guiders CBO (G.G)
- Hossanah FP Education Centre
- Integrated Development Africa Programme
- International Centre for Reproductive Health
- Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE)
- Kenya Muslim Youth Development Organization (KMYDO)
- Laini Saba Project Centre & Home Care (LAPCA)
- Maasai Girls Education Fund
- Margaret Wanzu Foundation
- Msichana Empowerment Kuria
- Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA)
- Nyanza Initiative for Girls’ Education & Empowerment (NIGEE)
- Olmarei Lang Self Help Organisation
- Pastoralist Girls Initiative (PGI)
- Population Council
- Porridge and Rice
- Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI)
- Samburu Girls Foundation
- Seeds to Sew International
- Shepherd of Life Organization (SOL-Kenya)
- Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative (TNI)
- VSO International
- Yaya Education Trust
- Youth Horizons
- The Law Library of Congress, Parliament passes comprehensive Marriage Bill, changes process for contracting customary marriages, 2014
- UNFPA, Child marriage profile: Kenya, 2012
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016