Child, Early and Forced Marriage

Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) is a widespread and harmful practice that threatens the lives and futures of girls around the world, with devastating consequences. CEFM denies girls their right to childhood, disrupts their access to education and jeopardizes their health. CEFM also hinders development. When girls are not able to reach their full potential, everyone suffers—girls, their families, communities and countries.

CEFM is a global problem, which is most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. There are many factors that contribute to CEFM, including poverty, gender inequality, traditional or religious pressures, girls’ lack of access to education, limited economic empowerment for women, and humanitarian crises.

Quick Facts

  • Every year, millions of girls—some as young as five years old—are forced into marriage.
  • One in every three girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18. One in nine marries before the age of 15.
  • Complications in childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in the developing world.
  • Globally, between 2004 and 2014, an estimated 100 million girls will have been forced to marry before their 18th birthday.