Unless we end child marriage, we will not achieve at least 9 of the 17 SDGs.
Child marriage is a global issue that cuts across countries, cultures and religions. Around 650 million girls and women alive today were married before age 18.
Unless we accelerate our efforts, 150 million more girls will marry or enter a union by 2030,[i] and it will take another 300 years to end the practice.[ii]
Adopted in 2015, the 17 SDGs set out global development priorities up to 2030. They are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people can enjoy peace and prosperity. They are comprehensive, interrelated and centred on the realisation of human rights.
Goal 5 of the SDGs focuses on gender equality and includes a target to end child marriage by 2030.
But the consequences of not achieving this target reach beyond Goal 5. Unless we make significant progress on ending child marriage, we will fall short on at least nine of the SDGs, including those related to poverty, food security, health, education, gender equality, economic growth, climate action, and peace and justice.
In this advocacy brief we highlight the reasons why ending child marriage is important to achieving these nine SDGs, and outline the actions needed to ensure that this happens.
What needs to happen
- Prioritise child marriage within the 2030 Agenda to achieve real, long-term change. We will not end child marriage by 2030 unless action is scaled up.
- Ensure that all reporting on the progress of the SDGs includes meaningful involvement from civil society, including community-based organisations, young people and women’s collectives at the national, regional and global levels.
- Commit to action by developing costed national and regional action plans to address child marriage that work across sectors and across the development and humanitarian nexus.
Reviewing the progress on achieving the SDGs
The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the official mechanism for reviewing progress on the SDGs.
Civil society has a critical role to play in achieving the SDGs, and in holding governments accountable for their commitments. Meaningful civil society engagement, including community-based organisations and youth and women’s collectives, is needed at every stage of the HLPF process, including national and regional consultations, and at global reviews. National follow-up mechanisms need to include civil society representatives. Civil society offers unique insights into the SDGs and plays an important role in holding governments accountable for their commitments, and in highlighting local challenges.
Progress must be reported in a consistent and comprehensive method. Country-level Voluntary National Reviews should use a standardised format to assess the progress of each Goal, including challenges and actions. By providing realistic and holistic reviews, we can better assess gaps and take action. All regions should introduce Peer Review Mechanisms to ensure collaborative, regionally-specific learning and sharing of promising practices on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Turn commitments into actions. Governments must prioritise clear action and pathways through showing leadership in ending child marriage and implementing programmes that will ensure every girl can determine her future.