National government action on child marriage must be holistic, multi-sectoral, girl-centred, evidence-based, and rights-based, if it is to be effective. Governments need to establish supportive legal and policy frameworks, implement programmes at scale, and ensure that girls have access to essential services related to education, health and justice.
Dedicated national strategies to end child marriage provide an important framework for governments to take action. To be effective, they must be developed and implemented in cooperation with key stakeholders, including civil society, communities, youth, and affected girls.
In countries where girls’ needs are already a national priority, it may be more productive to advocate for governments to integrate action on child marriage into existing strategies, plans and programmes, rather than creating a new, separate strategy or policy.
Governments and civil society have a role to play
Girls Not Brides’ national-level advocacy to governments focuses on two key areas:
- All relevant line ministries take action to address child marriage. We want governments to integrate a focus on addressing child marriage into the work plans and budgets of relevant ministries and departments. These include gender, education, health, child protection, social protection, water and sanitation, justice, and transportation ministries. Cross-governmental coordination is critical for this. Sub-national and local governments have a crucial role to play in reaching girls at risk of child marriage, and married girls.
- Civil society organisations are seen as key partners to government efforts. Governments are responsible for engaging with civil society as they develop and implement responses to child marriage in their country. Civil society organisations at all levels – community, national, international – must work together and become effective partners in these processes. They also play a critical role in holding their governments to account for their commitments.
Girls Not Brides member organisations work together at the national level through coalitions, National Partnerships, or other mechanisms for collaboration.
Together, they advocate for effective responses; ensure accountability; share lessons-learned, evidence and data; and hold governments to account to finance and implement national strategies and programmes that address child marriage.
All parts of our Girls Not Brides Partnership play a role in mobilising and engaging with donors and multilateral organisations - including the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage - to support national government action.
Briefing series: "Taking action to address child marriage: the role of different sectors"
This series of 10 briefs provides a short, accessible introduction to incorporating and measuring child marriage prevention and response throughout the programme life cycle.
The role of parliamentarians in ending child marriage
This toolkit provides an overview of what child marriage is, and existing international legal instruments that prohibit the practice
User guide for Girls Not Brides members to engage with parliamentarians
This user guide outlines the importance of engaging parliamentarians to end child marriage, and suggests ideas on how to collaborate with them.
A check-list for national strategies to end child marriage (+ user guide)
This check-list provides a framework to analyse national strategies and other initiatives to end child marriage.