Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings: Integrating the Response to Child Marriage in East Africa

East Africa has some of the highest rates of child marriage. Roughly one in three girls is married as a child in Uganda and Tanzania, and about half or more of girls in South Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia marry before age 18. “Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings: Integrating the Response to Child Marriage” is a two-year initiative to engage feminist and women-led civil society organizations, experts, and practitioners to learn how best to enhance coordination and collaboration with humanitarian actors to end child marriage and support already married girls in forcibly displaced and crisis-affected communities in East Africa.

Stemming from deeply entrenched gender inequality, a myriad of diverse socio-cultural and contextually specific drivers materialize and are often exacerbated in situations of crises. As conflicts and natural disasters become increasingly protracted, civil society and emergency actors need to work together to effectively prevent child marriage and meet the needs of married girls.

Through a participatory and iterative research approach, practitioners as part of the initiative have worked to identify key aspects of programming that support or hinder positive health outcomes for adolescent girls. This initiative is working in partnership with feminist thought leaders to refine key priorities to address gaps in practice and evolve advocacy goals to influence regional and national humanitarian responses and policies to combat child marriage.

Pathway to Impact

Gender-transformative change is needed to ensure that adolescent girls are valued, safe, able to reach their full potential, and are fully empowered to make their own decisions about if, when, and whom to marry.

In partnership with Rozaria Memorial Trust and King’s College London, we are working with local feminist and women-led organizations in East Africa to develop new ways to end child marriage and make sure the needs of married girls are identified and prioritized in humanitarian response.

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