Theory of Change
Learn about our Theory of Change to end child marriage: its four pillars, how to use it, how to measure progress, examples of successful approaches, and how we created it.
Every year 12 million girls marry or enter a union before age 18
We want to see a world in which girls can choose if, when and whom to marry. A world in which girls and women enjoy equality with boys and men, and can reach their full potential.
There is no single solution to end child marriage, but there are a number of steps that can lead to a better future for us all. Our Theory of Change shows the range of approaches needed to address child marriage, how they intersect and the role everyone has to play to advance girls' rights.
Ending child marriage and supporting girls who are – or have been – married requires long-term, sustained efforts.
Change will ultimately take place within communities, but work with communities will drive greater transformations if it is supported by collective action at national, regional and international levels.
Adequate resources must be made available for collective action by civil society and the effective implementation of gender-transformative and feminist strategies. All those working to address child marriage should evaluate programmes, share promising practices and coordinate their work to achieve maximum scale and impact.
Child marriage does not take place in a vacuum; work to end the practice should play an integral part in initiatives to achieve broader development and rights goals around the world.
The purpose of our Theory of Change
Inform and inspire more work to end child marriage. Our Theory of Change provides a guide, whether you are addressing the issue already and wish to develop your work further, or are new to it and considering how your work can contribute.
Facilitate partnership and collaboration among all those who have a role to play – from the grassroots to government, local to international, civil society to donors.
Serve as a foundation to build consensus about actions needed to address child marriage and support married girls.
How to use our Theory of Change
You can use this tool to:
- Support your advocacy
- Inform your programmes
- Demonstrate the impact of your work and mobilise resources
- Identify and foster new partnerships
- Inform national frameworks or strategies to end child marriage
The four pillars of our Theory of Change
Advancing girls' rights and leadership
A wide range of programmes invest in girls – including the most excluded and marginalised – to increase their knowledge, skills and assets, and support their decision-making power, collective action, choice and control of their futures.
Mobilise families and communities
Families, communities, young people and leaders are engaged to transform norms, attitudes and behaviours related to child marriage and gender inequality.
Quality services across sectors reinforce one another and are tailored to the specific needs of girls, including those at risk of child marriage and those who are – or have been – married.
Establish and implement laws and policies
A robust legal and policy framework exists for preventing child marriage and supporting girls who are – or have been – married or in informal unions.
A three-step guide to developing a collective Theory of Change
This step-by-step guide will provide you with clear steps for how to develop a simple, accessible Theory of Change.
Theory of Change user guide
This user guide outlines ways in which organisations can use the global Theory of Change on child marriage.
Useful resources on social norms and child marriage
A resource with a number of new global initiatives aim to better understand and overcome harmful social and gender norms.
Applying theory to practice: CARE's journey piloting social norms measures for gender programming
This report takes a look at how a deeper understanding of social norms can lead to more effective strategies to transform entrenched gender norms and behaviours.