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Fragile States, Fragile Lives

Child Marriage Amid Disaster and Conflict

Author: , Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy

Fragile States, Fragile Lives - child-marriage-in-fragile-states

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations

Release Date June 2014

15 pages


Existing evidence suggests that the correlation between child marriage prevalence and fragility should be examined more closely, as many of the countries with the highest rates of the practice are found on the top of lists such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) list of fragile states and the Fund for Peace's Failed States Index.

Child marriage does not cause fragile states, but it does reinforce poverty, limit girls' education, stymie economic progress, and contribute to regional instability. Natural disasters and/or armed conflict limit economic opportunities, weaken social institutions, and increase the chance of sexual violence and assault targeting women and girls. In such circumstances, early marriage becomes a more palatable option for parents and families looking to protect their girls.

But there is a wide gap in data that assesses the degree to which fragile contexts perpetuate child marriage, resulting in a gap in informed intervention. Closing this gap will help produce more effective and targeted interventions to assist the youngest and most at-risk members of communities in crisis, and improve the future prospects of all members of the next generation in some of the most challenging corners of the world.

More About This Publication

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is the New York Times best-selling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and a senior fellow with the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Prior to joining CFR, Lemmon covered public policy and emerging markets for the global investment firm PIMCO, after working for nearly a decade as a journalist with the ABC News political unit and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Lemmon has reported on entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict regions for the Financial Times, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Daily Beast, Fast Company, Politico, Huffington Post, and Bloomberg. She is also the author of the Newsweek March 2011 cover story "The Hillary Doctrine" on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's push to put women at the center of U.S. foreign policy. She has written regularly for the Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs. Lemmon appears frequently on news outlets including NBC News, National Public Radio, MSNBC, and CNN. Lemmon earned a BA in journalism summa cum laude from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she received the 2006 Dean's Award for her work on women's entrepreneurship.

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