Policymakers play a critical role in advancing national-level change to address child marriage and support girls who are – or have been – married. They need to access and use contextual evidence and local-level data, so they can draft and implement policies that adapt to and address the complex and changing dynamics of child marriage, at scale and in a cost-effective way.
This requires strong relationships and alignment between those who fund, generate and use evidence. It means ensuring donors invest in rigorous research, and government ministries and programmers take up and use research findings in sub-national and national policies and interventions, particularly around child marriage, education and health.
In this Child Marriage Research to Action Network (the CRANK) research meeting, we drew on recent examples of when child marriage evidence has successfully informed policymaking, so advancing national-level change to address child marriage and support ever-married girls.
- Co-creating research with government, and using existing evidence and local and government structures are key to research uptake, scaling and sustainability. This approach builds on existing local solutions to produce stronger, contextualised research that can be integrated into government plans and budgets for long-term implementation and sustained impact.
- Researchers can play an important role in demonstrating impact and advocating with decision-makers in government and donor bodies to scale up and fund interventions that are proven to work. Advocacy with donors may include adapting projects and timelines to be demand-driven and account for co-creation; advocacy with governments should be targeted to “policy windows” when laws and policies are already up for debate.
- Multisectoral, multilevel approaches show positive long-term impacts on girls’ education, child marriage and early childbearing, but can face demand- and supply-side constraints.
- It is important to work with girls, families and communities to raise awareness of child marriage and girls’ education (demand), and to consider what existing systems offer (supply). Advocacy and interventions need to be carefully sequenced to ensure education, health and social protection systems can respond to increased demand.
- Removing fees for secondary education has greater impact on child marriage and childbearing than only removing fees at primary level, but this may be limited by other costs – like uniforms, books and transport – or, critically, where education does not translate into better economic opportunities. Having female teachers and head teachers, and better latrines and menstrual hygiene changing rooms and products were also associated with higher promotion for girls, but more research is needed to understand why.
Akwara, E., and Chandra-Mouli, V., 2022, Looking back with satisfaction at the progress made in adolescent pregnancy and child bearing globally, and looking ahead at the enormous amount that yet needs to be done.
Amo-Adjei, J., Caffe, S., Simpson, Z., Harris, M., and Chandra-Mouli, V., 2022, “Second Chances” for adolescent mothers: Four decades of insights and lessons on effectiveness and scale-up of Jamaica’s PAM.
The CRANK, 2021, Research Spotlight: Gender-transformative and systems approaches to ending child marriage and promoting girls’ rights, Girls Not Brides and UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage.
The CRANK, 2022, Research Spotlight: Successful multisectoral and multilevel approaches to address child marriage, Girls Not Brides and UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage.
Platforms for collaboration and learning
This CRANK research meeting was a space to:
- Consider the implications of new evidence for research, programming and policymaking
- Hear brief updates from researchers and practitioners on new or current child marriage research
The speakers were:
- Pragya Bhuwania, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, to present on the Impact of tuition-free education policy on child marriage and early childbearing: Does secondary matter more?
- Karen Austrian, Director, GIRL Center and Senior Associate, Population Council, Kenya, to present on the Adolescent Girls Initiative-Kenya
- Mohamed Abdille, WASH and AGI-K Coordinator for the Wajir County Department of Health, Kenya
- Michele Boujikian, Education Researcher, Data Must Speak, Innocenti, UNICEF, to present on findings from Cote d'Ivoire, Madagascar and Togo
The moderator was:
- Dr Rachel Yates, Strategic Advocacy Lead at the University of Cape Town, and Associate Fellow at the Department of Social, Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford
- All presentations (PPTX, 32.9MB)
- Recording (English)
- Enregistrement (français)
- Grabación (español)
Presentations, and recording / Ordre du jour, présentations et enregistrement / Agenda, presentaciones y grabación
- Key takeaways and notes (Eng) (PDF, 344.3kB)
- Principales aportaciones y notas (Esp) (PDF, 361.2kB)
- Points principaux et notes (Fra) (PDF, 360.2kB)