This study by UNICEF explores the prevalence and causes of child marriage in six countries in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA): Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan and Yemen.
While child marriage in MENA has declined over the last decades, some rates remain alarming especially where populations are affected by conflict and displacement.
Like in other regions, girls in MENA are more affected by child marriage than boys. Restricted mobility due to insecurity means that many girls living in poor communities in rural areas don't engage much in social networks and have limited access to education, health services, justice, and economic opportunities, which all strengthen risks of child marriage. Girls who are already married also lack appropriate services to support them in their life.
Based on these findings, the study highlights eight ways to strengthen promising practices in addressing child marriage in the region:
- Interventions addressing child marriage in MENA must be context specific and include a gender analysis.
- They should be informed by the knowledge and experience of local women's organisations.
- They should follow a theory of change, allow all key actors to participate in the design, and be piloted.
- Funding should run over several years and allow rigorous evaluation of the impact of child marriage.
- Programmes addressing child marriage should focus on addressing child marriage and its structural causes.
- They should be scaled up to reach the most rural and remote communities.
- They should recognise that different level might be affected: the individual, the community etc.
- National legal frameworks should remove exceptions to the minimum age of marriage.
The study also provides many specific recommendations for the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme on child marriage.