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

25% of girls in Uruguay are married before the age of 18 and 1% are married before their 15th birthday.

Child marriage is most prevalent in rural parts of Uruguay with less than 5,000 inhabitants, and among Afro and other ethnic minority groups.

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 Uruguay, but available studies show that it is driven by:

  • Level of education: 23% of women with primary level education were married before the age of 18, compared to only 1% who had completed tertiary education.
  • Poverty: 29% of women in Uruguay’s poorest households were married as children, compared to only 6% in the richest households.

What has this country committed to?

Uruguay has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. During its Voluntary National Review at the 2017 High Level Political Forum, the government highlighted the increased minimum age of marriage from 12-14 to 16 years. However it did not report on any progress towards target 5.3 during its Voluntary National Review at the 2018 High Level Political Forums.

Uruguay co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts, and the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, recognising that it is a violation of human rights.

Uruguay co-sponsored the 2014 UN General Assembly resolution on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, Uruguay signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Uruguay ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

During its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, Uruguay supported recommendations to eliminate child marriages and adopt 18 as a minimum age of marriage for both girls and boys.

During its 2016 review, the CEDAW Committee raised concerns that marriage at 16 years of age is legal in Uruguay. It recommended that the government raise the minimum age of marriage to 18.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Civil Code 1995, individuals must be at least 16 years old to marry, and if below 18 years require parental consent to do so.


Government of Uruguay, INFORME NACIONAL VOLUNTARIO – URUGUAY 2017, 2017, (accessed May 2018)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)

UNICEF y mides, Uruguay. Encuesta de Indicadores Múltiples por Conglomerados 2013, Informe final, 2015, (accessed May 2018)

UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined eighth and ninth periodic reports of Uruguay, 2016, p.13, p.14, (accessed May 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review,
Uruguay, 2014, p.18, (accessed May 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

* 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)

Members In Uruguay