This Research Spotlight summarises the latest research and evidence on successful multisectoral and multilevel approaches to address child marriage. It focuses on research from 2021 and 2022 that shines a light on how best to work with and across different levels and sectors, including health, education, social protection and child protection.
In it, you will find:
- Key takeaways from featured studies
- Highlighted current evidence gaps and under-researched geographical areas
- An overview of where evidence needs to be strengthened
- An overview of where more funding is needed
- Tools for practitioners to strengthen the design and implementation of child marriage programming
The recent studies discussed in this Research Spotlight are useful in showing that multisectoral approaches that combine interventions at the individual, community, service provision and policy levels can be effective in delaying marriage and reducing adolescent pregnancy even among the girls who have been most marginalised. Some studies show pathways to scale when the intervention relies primarily on one sector, with supplementary components from other sectors.
However, there are still fewer evaluations than there are studies looking at prevalence, drivers and consequences of child marriage. More investment is needed in programmes to delay marriage and research to thoroughly document the outcomes of those programmes.
While these studies contribute to our understanding of the effectiveness of multisectoral approaches, they also demonstrate a significant level of inconsistency in results in different contexts and therefore raise a number of questions and areas for future research. The fact that many of these programmes were implemented during the first year of the pandemic is also likely to have strongly influenced final programme impacts. Some key questions for consideration in future programme design and evaluations could be:
- Can intensive multisectoral programming be replicated by public sector actors at scale?
- How can economic interventions best help both improve household security and delay marriage and pregnancy, including within the context of the ongoing pandemic?
- What are the best strategies for changing deeply ingrained social norms and attitudes related to adolescent sexuality and use of contraception?
- How can positive social norms change be scaled, strengthened and sustained over time?
- How can the transition from school to work best be supported to enable girls and young women to access quality employment opportunities after school or university graduation?
Evaluations of large-scale interventions to delay marriage continue to focus on countries in South Asia and West, Central, East and Southern Africa, neglecting areas of high child marriage prevalence in Latin America and certain countries in Francophone Africa. Many of these countries – particularly those in Francophone Africa – include hard-to-reach humanitarian contexts, and the lack of evaluated programmes to address child marriage in these contexts is a clear gap in the recent evidence base.
This Research Spotlight contributes to the CRANK's aim of encouraging the uptake of research by advocates, donors, policymakers and practitioners. You can check what others are working on in our online research tracker.