Strategy to establish and implement laws and policies
Governments should demonstrate their commitment to end child marriage by developing strong laws and policies, and putting the money and institutions in place to enforce them.
Legislation on the minimum age for marriage must form part of a broader legal framework that protects women and girls’ rights - from property rights and protection from violence, to support for those wishing to leave a marriage. Any loopholes - for example related to parental consent or customary laws - must be removed.
There should be systems to monitor how these laws and policies are being implemented. These should be transparent, relevant and accountable to girls and their families.
- National laws reflect international and regional human rights standards
- Robust legal framework that sets 18 as the minimum legal age for marriage and protects girls' and women's rights
- Governments develop policies with adequate resourcing across Ministries to increase educational, economic and social opportunities for married and unmarried girls
- Strengthened civil registration systems for birth and marriage
- Increased accountability and monitoring of national/regional/community institutions
If properly enforced, robust laws and policies will help change attitudes in a society and provide a framework to improve services for adolescent girls. Accessible, relevant laws become crucial tools for those working to empower girls and families to avoid child marriage.
Programmes on laws and policies
Strengthening, implementing and resourcing laws and policies
Strengthening, implementing and resourcing laws and policies which prevent child marriage is an important step towards recognising and upholding girls’ rights. While most countries legislate for a minimum legal age of marriage, the age of marriage is often higher for men than it is for women and many countries continue to have a legal age of marriage lower than in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Gender discrimination and loopholes in the law continue to be rife especially when it comes to issues around parental consent, the right to own and inherit property, separation and divorce and access to professional services and support.
Furthermore, many countries have a pluralistic legal system meaning customary law often contradicts and overrides national law making enforcement difficult.
Registering births and marriages
Registering births and marriages helps prevent child marriage by proving the age of a girl and her partner and means that girls and women are able to seek financial and legal redress if the marriage ends.
Theory of Change user guide
This user guide outlines ways in which organisations can use the global Theory of Change on child marriage.
Strengthening existing systems for prevention of child marriage
In this case study, we explore the work of HAQ Centre for Child Rights who works to strengthen existing systems at the government and community level in India.