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Ending child marriage

A co-creation workshop with Girls Not Brides

Girls Not Brides Uganda, a national partnership to end child marriage, invited Cefarh and other organizations to attend a co-creation workshop to build an action plan to end child marriage. More than 30 people worked together, including Cefarh’s Director of Operations. The event was supported by the Ugandan government and the African Union Commission.

The 3-day workshop brought together the national team and the global secretariat to co-create and design a three years project and strategy for Uganda to strengthen the impact of the financial investment to end child marriage in the country. This marks the next step in our collective response – a chance to understand each other better, celebrate past successes, build consensus on important issues, and take initial steps toward a strategic work plan.

The event included storytelling methods and training sessions that shared different strategies that can effectively be used in projects to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy. 

The coming together was the first of its kind in Uganda, bringing together members from across the country to discuss how to work as a collective team, what the role of any member organization could be, and to create a united response.

The takeaway was clear for all: it’s about what each of us can give to the movement, not what the movement can give to each of us, said the global CEO Dr. Faith Nwagi Powell.

CEFARH had the opportunity to participate in articulating a clear vision and mission for Girls Not Brides Uganda and develop a long-term project roadmap to achieve the expected goal.

We are excited to have been part of this process and look forward to seeing the impactful results of our combined efforts.

Why does child marriage happen

Child marriage is a complex issue. It is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that girls and women are inferior to boys and men. It is made worse by poverty, lack of education, harmful social norms and practices, and insecurity. Its drivers vary between communities, and it looks different across – and within – regions and countries. But in Uganda, it is higher due to poverty and gender inequality.

Gender inequality

Gender inequality means that women and girls are treated as second-class citizens, denied their human rights and valued less because of their gender.

Child marriage is one expression of this gender inequality.

Patriarchal systems – that is, systems that are controlled by men – that value girls according to their virginity lead to limits on female sexuality and reproductive choices. This can mean controlling how a girl behaves and dresses, where she goes, who she sees, and if, who and when she marries.

It can also criminalize her sexuality and block her access to care and information.

In many places like Uganda here, girls who have relationships or become pregnant outside of marriage are shamed for bringing dishonor to their family or even stopped from going to school. In such circumstances, parents may see early marriage as a way to protect their daughters and their families. Girls may agree and wish to gain status as a wife and mother.


Nearly 40% of girls in the world’s poorest countries are married as children, twice the global average. 

When experiencing acute poverty, families – and sometimes girls themselves – see marriage as a way to reduce family costs and gain financial security.

This idea is reinforced by patriarchal norms that devalue and commodify girls.

Because girls have less access to education and low social, political, and economic status, they are often economically dependent on men. They may see marriage as their only option.

Girls are most affected by poverty-driven child marriage because:

  • They lack access to education and welfare and protection safety nets.
  • They have less time to study and earn because they have to do more childcare and household chores than boys.
  • Families with few resources are likelier to invest in their sons’ education.
  • They can’t trade, own assets, or do some jobs because they aren’t allowed to move freely.
  • They can’t access fair employment because of workplace harassment and biased recruitment policies.
  • Their marriage may be used to repay debts, manage disputes, or settle social, economic and political alliances.
  • A dowry or “bride price” may provide a welcome income for a girl’s family during economic hardship.
  • If the girl’s family has to pay a dowry, the amount may be less if she is young and uneducated.

CEFARH is currently empowering adolescent girls with hands-on skills that render them self-reliant through one-year training aimed at delaying their marriage and giving them skills for generating income.

What we have done so far

Join us today; let’s do this fight together!