Girls' Rights in Fragile States

Project Expert

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy

About the Project

In the next decade, 142 million girls worldwide will become brides before age eighteen if the current trend continues unabated. More than a moral issue, child marriage is damaging to global prosperity; as girls leave school early to become mothers, communities face the growth of an uneducated and undereducated youth. The prevalence of child marriage is also correlated to a nation's security: nine of the ten countries with the highest rates of child marriage are considered fragile states by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Yet there remains a significant lack of data on the factors that contribute to and the strategies that have proved effective against child marriage. In my working paper, High Stakes for Young Lives, I examine the social, economic, and cultural factors driving child marriage in order to help policymakers and civil society leaders curb, and eventually eliminate, child marriage. Since no single strategy will end the practice, I argue for a combination of legal frameworks, education policies, enforcement standards, attitude shifts, and economic incentives. In Fragile States, Fragile Lives, I hone in on the correlation between child marriage and state fragility, using the status of women and girls in the Syrian conflict as an example.