Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
Other key stats
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||16|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||Yes|
|Is there a Girls Not Brides National Partnership or coalition?||Yes|
|Age of marriage without consent or exceptions taken into account||Legal age of marriage - 18 years, no exceptions|
What's the prevalence rate?
53% of girls in Mozambique are married before their 18th birthday and 17% are married before the age of 15.
Mozambique has the sixth highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, and the 12th highest absolute number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 globally – 750,000.
10% of boys in Mozambique are married before the age of 18, which makes Mozambique one of the top 20 countries globally with the highest prevalence of child marriage among boys.
According to the 2011 DHS, child marriage is more prevalent in the rural areas and the in the Northern and Central regions. In the province of Niassa, almost one quarter of women (24%) were married by the age of 15.
A 2017 World Bank/ICRW study estimated that ending child marriage in Mozambique could see a 15.6% rise in earnings for women who married early, and would generate an additional USD 375 million in earnings and productivity for the country.
What drives child marriage in Mozambique?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys.
In Mozambique, child marriage is also driven by:
Poverty: Half of the population in Mozambique lives in poverty. This puts girls are at increased risk of being married off as many families see child marriage as a means for economic survival, in addition to the incentive of obtaining the bride price (lobolo).
Harmful traditional practices:Polygamy prevails in many communities and interlinks with child marriage because many girls are married off as second or third spouses to wealthy men. Traditional gender norms contribute to perpetuate child marriage in rural Mozambique by attributing a high value to the virginity of girls. Sexual initiation rites also encourage the subordination of a girl to her husband.
Adolescent pregnancy: Adolescent pregnancy is closely linked to child marriage. In rural areas, the majority of adolescent mothers are married. On average, girls have their first child 15 months after they get married. Access to contraception could significantly reduce teenage pregnancies and child marriage.
Level of education: According to 2011 DHS data, girls with secondary education were 53% less likely to be married by age 18, compared with girls with no education at all.
Humanitarian settings can encompass a wide range of situations before, during, and after natural disasters, conflicts, and epidemics. They exacerbate poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education, factors which all drive child marriage. In the case of Mozambique, multiple and consecutive climate shocks, including drought, two tropical cyclones in the same season in 2019 and floods left an estimated 2.5 million people in need of life-saving and resilience-building assistance in 2019.
Natural disasters: Already in 2016, a study by CARE concluded that during the El Niño-induced drought in Mozambique, many families used child marriage as a coping mechanism in a context of food scarcity, poverty and economic insecurity. While data on the impact of the 2019 cyclones on child marriage is not available yet, Save the Children has provided anecdotal evidence from field-based humanitarian workers about child marriage taking place in the affected areas.
What international, regional and national commitments has Mozambique made?
Mozambique has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mozambique co-sponsored the following Human Rights Council resolutions: the 2013 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. Mozambique also signed a joint statement at the 2014 Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
Mozambique co-sponsored the 2018 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage.
Mozambique ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, 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 1997, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
During its review in 2019, the CEDAW Committee expressed concerns about the persistence of harmful practices like child marriage and the absence of convictions, and recommended Mozambique to continue to engage with communities, including community leaders and parents, on the negative impact of child marriage, and to criminalise all harmful practices.
In 2019, the Child Rights Committee also expressed concerns about the extremely high rates of child marriage in Mozambique. The Committee urged the country to take all necessary measures to eliminate child marriage and initiation rites for girls, to ensure that the National Strategy for preventing and combating child marriages (2016–2019) is adequately resourced, extended beyond 2019 and effectively implemented, and to develop comprehensive awareness-raising campaigns with different stakeholders.
During its 2016 Universal Periodic Review, Mozambique supported recommendations to establish the minimum age of marriage at 18 years old and to operationalise a gender strategy within the education system in order to combat child marriage.
In 1998 Mozambique ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage. In 2005 Mozambique ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, including Article 6 which sets the minimum age for marriage as 18.
Mozambique is one of 20 countries which has committed to ending child marriage by the end of 2020 under the Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Mozambique is one of the countries where the Spotlight Initiative (a global, multi-year partnership between European Union and United Nations) is supporting efforts to end all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)/DREAMS Initiative is also working in Mozambique to reduce rates of HIV among adolescent girls and young women.
Mozambique is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education.
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
In 2019, the Parliament of Mozambique approved the Law on Prevention and Combat of Premature Unions. The law aims to prohibit, prevent, mitigate and penalise premature unions or marriages (child marriage), as well as establish mechanisms to protect children in those unions. In addition, the Parliament approved a revision of the Family Law criminalising the marriage of persons under 18 years with the consent of parents.
Mozambique is a focus country of the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, a multi-donor, multi-stakeholder programme working across 12 countries over four years. As part of the Global Programme, in 2018 more than 200,000 Mozambican girls were reached with life skills interventions and approximately 5 million people were engaged as part of a mass media campaign against child marriage.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Affairs developed a National Costed Strategy to Prevent and Eliminate Child Marriage (2016-2019) which is being implemented in collaboration with UNICEF, UNFPA and the Girls Not Brides national partnership (CECAP).
The strategy was developed through consultation with multiple ministries, international agencies, donor partners and the National Coalition to End Child Marriage. It contains eight main pillars, including:
A communications and social mobilisation campaign.
Improving girls’ access to education and sexual and reproductive health services.
Support for married girls.
Reform of the legal framework.
The strategy will be evaluated in 2020, after which the government will decide on continuation of the strategy.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Family Law 2004 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years, with no exceptions (following its amendment in 2019).
National Partnerships and Coalitions in Mozambique
In this country we have a national partnership. Many Girls Not Brides member organisations have come together to accelerate progress to end child marriage in their countries by forming National Partnerships and coalitions. Below is an overview of what and where these networks are, what they do and how they work with Girls Not Brides.
We have 16 members in Mozambique
Content featuring Mozambique
Girls’ education and child marriage
Brief exploring the key facts, two-way impacts, common drivers and solutions on education and child marriage. Updated in September 2022.
CRANK Research Spotlight: Successful multisectoral and multilevel approaches to address child marriage
Brief summarising the latest research and evidence, with key takeaways from featured studies, and highlighting current evidence and funding gaps. It also includes tools for practitioners to strengthen design and…
Harnessing data to end child marriage: Summarizing learnings to-date
This brief was developed by Population Council Girl Innovation, Research, and Learning (GIRL) Center. It summarizes the key findings from five papers published as part of a special issue examining…
The Power of Collective Action
This set of case studies tells six stories of how collective working can create meaningful changes in the lives of girls.
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- African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [website], 2018, https://au.int/en/treaties/protocol-african-charter-human-and-peoples-rights-rights-women-africa (accessed January 2020).
- Care International, Hope Dries up? Women and Girls Coping with Drought and Climate Change in Mozambique, 2016, http://careclimatechange.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/El_Nino_Mozambique_Report_final.pdf (accessed January 2020).
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- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, http://fngeneve.um.dk/en/aboutus/statements/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=6371ad93-8fb0-4c35-b186-820fa996d379 (accessed January 2020).
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- Save the Children, Double Disasters: The effect of cyclones Idai and Kenneth on child marriage in Mozambique, 2019, https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/library/double-disasters-effect-cyclones-idai-and-kenneth-child-marriage-mozambique (accessed January 2020).
- Spotlight Initiative, Mozambique, [website], https://spotlightinitiative.org/mozambique (accessed January 2020).
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- UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined third to fifth periodic reports of Mozambique, CEDAW/C/MOZ/CO/3-5, 2019, p. 6-7, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fMOZ%2fCO%2f3-5&Lang=en (accessed January 2020).
- UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Mozambique, 2009, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/MOZ/CO/2&Lang=En (accessed January 2020).
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- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Resident Coordinator for Mozambique, UN Country Team in Mozambique, 2018-2020 Mozambique Humanitarian Response Plan, November 2018 - May 2020 (Revised in August 2019), 2019, https://reliefweb.int/report/mozambique/2018-2020-mozambique-humanitarian-response-plan-november-2018-may-2020-revised (accessed January 2020).
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