Photo credit: UN | Marco Dormino
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)
Niger has the highest rate of child marriage in the world. 3 in 4 girls marry before their 18th birthday.
In some areas, the rates are even higher: in the region of Diffa, 89% of girls marry as children.
Given these exceptionally high rates, recent research from the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the World Bank suggests that ending child marriage in Niger could save the country more than $25 billion between 2014 and 2030.
Poverty is a major driver of child marriage in Niger, bringing with it the hope of economic prosperity and an increase in social status for both girls and their parents.
Upholding social and religious traditions, including the fear of dishonour from pregnancy outside of marriage is also a major driver, as is instability caused by civil unrest and natural disasters.
The link between education and the prevalence of child marriage is particularly evident in Niger: 81% of women aged 20-24 with no education and 63% with only primary education were married or in union at age 18, compared to only 17% of women with secondary education or higher.
Legal age of marriage
The legal age of marriage for girls in Niger is 15. A law has been proposed to change the age to 18 for girls but is yet to be adopted.
Initiatives to end child marriage
In August 2016, the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Child Protection set up a national committee to coordinate actions (“le Comité National de Coordination des Actions) which aims to end child marriage in Niger. Read more.
In 2014, Niger launched the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage.
The UNFPA programme Action for Adolescent Girls was launched in Niger in 2013 and works with partners, including the country’s government, to tackle the causes and effects of child marriage.
The 5-year programme works with married and unmarried girls to provide life skills and sexual reproductive health information. It also provides girls with a birth certificate and health check.
Global Programme to End Child Marriage
Niger is one of 12 countries selected to be part of UNFPA and UNICEF’s Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.
Members In Niger
- Actions pour le Développement Intégré à la base (ADI)
- Association des Femmes Africaines face au SIDA (SWAA/Niger)
- Association des Femmes Juristes du Niger (AFJN)
- Association Nigérienne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ANBEF)
- Cercle de Réflexion et d’Action pour un Développement Innovent (CERCLE-DEV)
- Coalition des Organisations Nigériennes des Droits de l’Enfant (CONIDE)
- Comité Nigérien sur les Pratiques Traditionnelles ayant Effet sur la Santé des Femmes et des Enfants (CONIPRAT)
- Ecole, parrainage & actions de développement (EPAD)
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016
- Wodon, Petroni et al, Economic impacts of child marriage: Preliminary findings from analyses of existing data, 2015
- UNFPA, Action for Adolescent Girls programme, July 2014
- UNFPA, Niger: Child marriage country profile, 2012
- Demographic Health Surveys, 2006