Across the globe more than 650 million girls were married before they turned 18. In countries like Niger, over 75% of women are married before they turned 18. In Ethiopia, there are 15 million child brides & of these, more than a third were married before they turned 15.

Sudanese women sit barefoot while waiting in line outside a polling station in Malakal

Child marriage has devastating consequences for individuals and society. Child brides have worse economic and health outcomes than their unmarried peers. And girls who marry before turning 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence and less likely to continue their education, and by extension, to ever be financially independent. While most countries have set the minimum age of marriage at 18, a large proportion of them still provide exceptions with parental consent or authorization of the court. And even where laws have been amended to raise the minimum age for marriage, courts often have a poor record in enforcing these safeguards. As a result, around 12 million girls around the world marry while still children each year.