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Progress Toward Ending Child Marriage Over the Last Decade: A missed opportunity to deliver for the world's most marginalised girls

Compared to the previous generation, the incidence of child marriage worldwide has declined. However, strides forward have suffered from substantial limitations. At the global level, child marriage is still too widespread, and progress too slow, to meet the SDG target in 2030. At the regional level, some areas have achieved remarkable progress, while others are lagging behind. Worryingly, in the majority of cases, progress over the past decade (2010-2020) has not matched advancements achieved in the decade prior (2000-2010). At the country level, inclusive progress hasn’t always materialized: in a number of countries, gaps are widening not only between wealth groups, but also on the basis of residence. In a nutshell, progress has been unevenly distributed not only across time, but also across geographies, with stark divides both among and within countries.

COVID-19 is expected to have a damaging impact on child protection, including according to Save the Children’s own projections. Urgent efforts are needed to guarantee girls’ rights and prevent devastating setbacks. In the longer term, more research is needed to understand what drives child marriage, so as to tackle it more effectively in different regions.

Published 2021-02-02