Child Marriage

Child Marriage in the Commonwealth

Child, early and forced marriage is a Commonwealth problem. Globally, there is evidence that child marriage is declining however with increasing populations in the Commonwealth today, numbers of child brides, and girls married before the age of 18, are growing each year. Child marriage affects every region of the Commonwealth, with the highest rates recorded across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The practice is a human rights violation, affecting a girls’ right to health, education, equality, non-discrimination and to live free from violence and exploitation.

Our Work to End Child Marriage

The Royal Commonwealth Society has been working to end child marriage in the Commonwealth since 2010, alongside our partners Plan UK. Together, we have published two reports on child marriage and gender inequality in the Commonwealth.

Report: Because You're a Girl - Growing Up in the Commonwealth

Report: Empowering Girls: What the Commonwealth can do to end Early and Forced Marriage 2013

The RCS is a member of Girls Not Brides - the international partnership to end child marriage. We work within this network with organisations around the Commonwealth to end child marriage. 

An article about child marriage in the Commonwealth is featured in our magazine, Commonwealth VOICES (pages 4 & 5).

Child marriage is a central topic of discussion; in 2013 the Commonwealth Secretariat held a panel discussion to mark Human Rights Day day that year,  highlighting their work on this priority issue. Advocate Hina Jilani, member of The Elders, spoke of the importance of national legislation and enforcement to combat the practice and Ann Cotton CBE, founder and Director of CAMFED, discussed the importance of working with communities to tackle the problems they face in keeping girls in education.

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