Ending Child Marriage

Globally, 21% of girls are married while they are still children, robbing them of their childhood. 

In the last decade, about 25 million child marriages have been prevented. However, due to COVID-19, an additional 10 million girls are at risk of becoming child brides by 2030. The pandemic is fueling increased risk for child marriages by interrupting education, creating food and economic insecurity, disrupting programs and services, increasing adolescent pregnancy, and causing deaths of parents and caregivers.

The program’s priority is engaging adolescent girls as key agents of change in the following 12 countries with high prevalence of child marriage: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.


Zonta has supported ending child marriage since 2014, contributing US$2 million to delay early marriage in Niger from 2014-2018. From 2018-2022, Zonta contributed US$3.5 million to the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage – the first private-sector donor to the Global Programme. For the next two years, Zonta International has committed US$1.2 million to UNICEF USA to support Phase II of the project.

In Phase I, almost 8 million adolescent girls were reached with life skills and school support, 39 million individuals engaged in community-based behavior change, and 26,000 schools strengthened their adolescent girl-friendly education. Zonta International’s continued support will help advance the Global Programme’s realization of its vision in which girls everywhere experience healthier, safer and more empowered life transitions while they maintain control of their own destiny by making informed choices and decisions about their education, sexuality, marriage and childbearing. These positive changes hold the potential to transform the lives of millions of girls and families all around the world, helping girls enjoy their childhoods and reach a brighter future.


  • Enhance knowledge, skills and attitudes of marginalized adolescent girls on matters such as their rights, relationships, sexual and reproductive health, and financial literacy, including in humanitarian contexts.
  • Adolescent boys, families, traditional and religious leaders, community groups and other influencers demonstrate more gender-equitable attitudes and support for girls’ rights.
  • Capacity of education, health, child protection and gender-based violence systems is increased to deliver coordinated, quality programs and services that meet the needs of adolescent girls and their families, including in humanitarian contexts.
  • Capacity of national and sub-national social protection, poverty reduction and economic empowerment programs and services is increased to respond to the needs of the poorest adolescent girls and their families, including in humanitarian contexts.
  • Governments’ capacities are increased to coordinate and implement national and sub-national action plans and systems to end child marriage.
  • Capacity of governments and non-governmental organizations is increased to generate, disseminate and use quality and timely evidence to inform policy and program design, track progress and document lessons.

Read a detailed project description to find out more about this exciting partnership between Zonta International, UNICEF USA and UNFPA.  Read the 2020-2022 description

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