5 Minutes of Inspiration: How CARE Ends Child Marriage

5 Minutes of Inspiration: How CARE Ends Child Marriage


Community leaders in Benin are 26 percent less likely to support child marriage. Find out why.

By Emily Janoch

In the five minutes it takes to read this blog, 128 girls under the age of 18 will get married. They live in every country of the world and belong to every religion and cultural group. The good news: we know how to help them. Schoolkids in Benin started hosting plays and events to talk about the dangers of child marriage, and community leaders listened. Now, they are 26 percent less likely to be actively promoting child marriage than they were at the beginning of CARE’s TEMPS project. Success like this gives us hope for the future — we can stop child marriage for everyone.

It’s not just Benin — CARE is working with communities and governments in 19 countries around the world to end child marriage.

What have we accomplished?

  • Fewer girls get married: In Ethiopia’s TESFA project, active community members stopped 150 child marriages. In the TEMPS project in Mali and Benin, 15 to 26 percent of community leaders stopped promoting child marriage. In Jordan, CARE supports Syrian refugee families with daughters under the age of 18 — they get money for every month they keep their girls in school instead of marrying them.
  • More laws protect girls: In four countries — the U.S., Egypt, Nepal, and Guatemala — CARE has been instrumental in creating laws and policies to prevent child marriage.
  • Girls are more confident: In Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Zimbabwe, and Benin, girls in CARE’s child marriage prevention programs report being more confident to stand up for their rights and speak out against child marriage.
  • Girls stay in school: In Afghanistan, the Lower Secondary Community Based Education program has helped get 1,140 girls into secondary school, and keep 87 percent of those girls on a path toward graduation. In India, Nepal, and Malawi, the Udaan model has gotten more than 2,000 girls a second chance at school.
  • Health services get better: In Congo, Kenya, and Malawi, health centers improved their support to teenagers — both those who are married, and those who aren’t.
Maria, 10, poses for a photograph at her home in Saran Maradi, Niger.


How did we get there?

  • Look at the whole society: CARE focuses on social norms — the same set of behaviors that inform ad campaigns against littering, and Apple uses to sell you the iPhone — to create an environment where everyone changes their behavior.
  • Create public debate: Plays, town-hall meetings, radio shows, poems — they are all ways to provoke a conversation about child marriage, so the community can define solutions.
  • Work with men and boys: The Engaging Fathers program in Lebanon is a great example of how we get men involved in conversations about child marriage as allies — people who can change their behaviors to help end child marriage. Learn more about engaging men and boys here.
  • Focus on positive examples: CARE’s research shows that showcasing positive examples and messages inspires others to do more. Burundi’s Abatangamucho program gives men a space to talk to each other about how to support the women and girls in their lives.

Want to learn more?

Check out the Child, Early, and Forced Marriage report.

CARE Action advocates are using their voices on behalf of girls’ futures worldwide. In times of conflict and emergencies, girls too often become targets of violence and abuse — trafficked for sex, removed from school, and forced into early marriage. Join us in calling on Congress to stand up for girls in emergencies.

Take Action with CARE Action


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