At the end of 2022, the Child Marriage Research to Action Network’s (the CRANK) held its first online global research convening. The three sessions brought together researchers, practitioners, advocates and funders from around the world to take a fresh lens to the latest evidence, working in partnership and the child marriage research funding landscape.
Now the CRANK has synthesised the key takeaways and detailed discussion into three easy-to-access briefs – one for each day of the convening.
Day one: Learning from the latest evidence – efforts to address child marriage and support married girls
On Day one, an expert panel shared what they have learned from the evidence base across themes including girls, families and communities; services and systems; advocacy and accountability; and conflict and crisis.
- The field is moving quickly, and there is a lot of evidence to inform practice. Fora like the CRANK help share information on useful studies, but more support for practitioners to translate evidence into practice is needed.
- Laws have an important role to play but need to be gender-transformative and implemented alongside broader work to transform social norms. Laws establish an aspiration for society, and create a platform for accountability, resource flows and national discussion that can advance girls’ rights. However, legal advocacy, implementation and enforcement needs to be context-specific, address gender inequality and transform social norms. Without this broader work, legal reform leads to the informalization of child marriage and fails to address the systems that reinforce norms that discriminate against girls and adolescents.
- We need to continue work on transforming discriminatory social norms, particularly for underserved populations, informed by better contextual understanding of privilege and power. This includes support for married, separated, widowed and divorced girls, and more work with boys and men, traditional and religious leaders and youth networks.
- Solutions need to be holistic, working across sectors and at scale, because everything is interconnected. Education, livelihoods, sexual and reproductive health and rights and employment are important areas of focus building the economic and political agency of girls and catalysing norms change at scale.
- There is a lack of evidence in humanitarian settings, but the blurring between humanitarian, development and peacebuilding contexts could be a starting point for a more holistic response.
Day two: Effective partnership and actions – strengthening the generation and use of evidence
On Day two, we learnt how diverse and multistakeholder partnerships can strengthen evidence generation and uptake, and multi-level impacts to end child marriage.
- Child marriage research should be holistic and seek input from diverse perspectives. Child marriage is complex and responses to it need to be comprehensive. So, research design also needs to include multiple and diverse individual and institutional perspectives at every level, to ensure research answers questions that contribute to broader change.
- Research and knowledge management is a system, with inequitable relationships of power. To ensure research includes the perspectives of those most at risk and/or affected by child marriage, we need to understand and address these inequalities through an inclusive research process.
- To ensure evidence uptake, research needs to be relevant, useful and accessible. This means engaging key stakeholders, co-creating and sharing decision making throughout the research process. This can be done through partnerships with trusted grassroots actors and networks; enhancing researcher capacities in inclusive, feminist, participatory and intersectional methodologies; and enhancing potential research user capacities in how to access, interpret and use evidence.
- Macro-level actors need to be engaged in research design to drive change at scale. We need to engage national governments as partners, persuading them that evaluation is not a fault-finding process, but a means to enhance quality and impact.
- Research can help build local, regional and international partnerships and movements, with greater shared knowledge, skills and purpose. Regional platforms can help connect, coordinate and bring a regional perspective to research for greater impact.
Day three: A fresh lens on the child marriage research funding landscape – conversations with the funding community on strategies, priorities, synergies and opportunities
On Day three, we had a panel discussion with funders on the current and future funding landscape around child marriage research. There was also space to identify synergies and opportunities between research and funding priorities and opportunities.
- Funding for research stimulates funding for programmes. Research and learning need to be integrated into every intervention from the beginning, rather than implemented as a standalone effort requiring separate funding.
- There is appetite to fund solutions rather than diagnoses. Investment cases are strengthened by positive messaging around solutions – showing that change is possible – rather than a focus on the scale of the problem, including prevalence, drivers and consequences.
- Funding should be channelled towards learning. This includes learning on what works and what could be improved. Addressing child marriage requires a holistic approach, which is reflected in the diversity of approaches taken by community-based organisations (CBOs). Given their contextualised understanding, CBOs – and the girls and adolescents they work with – need to be included in defining what success looks like, and in the design and implementation of efforts to document impact and improve programme effectiveness.
- Funding inclusive research plays a part in reaching the most marginalised groups. Investments around child marriage are opportunities to support those who have been most marginalised. Evidence-based research around key populations – like LGBTQIA+ people and girls who are married, pregnant or mothers – is also crucial to raising funding for such initiatives.
- There is a new funding landscape, and a need to diversity the sources and recipients of funds. With global attention on climate, food security and social protection, we need to better integrate child marriage into these sectors to support the child marriage learning agenda. There is already some useful knowledge and learning around food security and how it can successfully be integrated into work on harmful practices.
- Creating spaces and fora to connect funders, practitioners, academics, activists and researchers is important. Such spaces help strengthen the links between sectors and thematic areas, agree joint agendas and accelerate progress.
- CRANK Global Convening Day 1 brief: Learning from the latest evidence(ENG) (PDF, 914.8kB)
- CRANK Global Convening Day 2 brief: Effective partnership and action (ENG) (PDF, 727.9kB)
- CRANK Global Convening Day 3 brief: Child marriage research funding landscape (ENG) (PDF, 803.5kB)
- Resumen del CRANK del día 1: Aprendizajes a partir de la evidencia mas reciente (PDF, 920.8kB)
- Resumen del CRANK del día 2: Alianzas y acciones eficaces (PDF, 748.0kB)
- Resumen del CRANK del día 3: Panorama del financiamiento de la investigacion (PDF, 866.8kB)