Uganda is home to 5 million child brides. Of these, 1.3 million married before age 15, 8.9 million girls aged 10–19, especially those that live in the rural areas, and among the less educated and low-income households are at risk of becoming child brides and teenage mothers.
In Eastern Uganda, child marriage rates (49.4%) and early childbearing rates (38.1%). In Namutumba district alone, 8 out of 10 girls are married off before their 18th birthday. The Probation Officer confirms that an average of 5 child marriage related cases are received every month, while many others go unreported.
In Western Uganda, child marriage rates (39.5%) and early childbearing rates (33.1%). In Kasese district alone, 2,300 school girls conceived, 128 married off during lockdown. In Luweero, Ms Joyce Namigadde, the area probation officer, confirms that more than 20 cases of child marriage and teenage pregnancies have been recorded in Kamira Sub-county alone. Kasese District chairperson Sibendire Bigogo says teenage pregnancy and early marriage cases are high in Maliba, Bwesumbu, Bugoye, Munkunyu, Kitswamba, Kyabarungira, Buhuhira and Kyalhumba sub-counties. More support is needed.
Join us to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy
The Casey Foundation was founded in 2020. We are a not-for-profit organization that advocates for protecting and safeguarding female adolescents against child marriages and teenage pregnancies. We believe that ending child marriage and adolescent pregnancies will remove a significant barrier to global progress and ensure a world where girls look forward to their future. We aim to build a lot in which all girls have the opportunity to reach significant heights.
We work directly with girls to give them the opportunity to build skills and knowledge, understand and exercise their rights and develop support networks.
Mobilise Families & Communities
Many families and communities see child marriage as a deeply rooted practice, which has been part of their culture for generations.
Advocating For Laws & Policies
Laws and policies play an essential part in preventing child marriage and teenage pregnancy and support married girls.
Our programs are designed to contribute towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Child marriage is linked to higher household poverty, and perpetuates the cycle of poverty across generations. It is both a driver and consequence of poverty, and is most common in the world’s poorest countries and poorest households. Taking girls out of school as child brides takes away their access to education, and limits their opportunity to earn an income. When girls have the skills and opportunities to secure a job and develop their skills they can support themselves and their families and break the cycle of poverty.
Food insecurity and malnutrition can be a cause and consequence of child marriage. Marrying off daughters means families can save limited food resources, but babies born to girls under the age of 15 are more likely to have low birth weight, suffer from poor nutrition, experience stunting, and are at higher risk of dying before their fifth birthday. Addressing child marriage will contribute to progress on better nutrition and food security for adolescent girls and their children.
Child brides and their children often suffer a range of harmful health consequences due to early pregnancy. Complications related to adolescent pregnancy and childbirth are consistently among the leading causes of death for 15- to 19-year-old girls worldwide, and the risk of post-pregnancy complications is also higher for girls. Child marriage is also associated with poor mental health problems including depression and feelings of isolation. By acting to prevent child marriage, and by improving married and unmarried adolescent girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health services, we can dramatically improve health and broader development outcomes for millions of girls and children worldwide. Not only will we see positive outcomes for girls and their future, delaying marriage and motherhood will also reduce related high rates of infant mortality.
In most cases, child marriage means an end to formal education for girls, as they take on domestic responsibilities as well as childbearing and motherhood. Girls who are already out of school are also more likely to be married early. Poorly educated young mothers face more barriers in taking proper care of their children’s nutrition and health. Education is one of the most powerful tools available to prevent child marriage and promote gender equality. It provides protection for girls and also provides them with the knowledge and skills to determine their future.
Structural gender inequality is at the root of child marriage. Girls are valued less than boys and often have little say in whom, and when, they marry. Gender equality is an effective indicator of overall progress towards a more equitable world, one we will not achieve while child marriage persists. Addressing child marriage can be an entry point to addressing broader gender inequality. By tackling harmful practices and entrenched unequal social norms, we can work towards making sure the voices and decisions of girls and women are as valued as those of boys and men.
As well as being a human rights violation, the economic impact of child marriage has a significant impact on girls, their families and their nations, costing the world trillions of dollars. By ending child marriage and ensuring that adolescents have access to the education, information and services they need, they would be able to decide if, when and how many children to have, and increase their educational attainment. This would result in increases in productivity, and enable countries to make significant advances to alleviate poverty and benefit from economic growth.
Child marriage rates vary across regions and countries. Areas with a higher than national average prevalence of child marriage are often in the most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, and include the most vulnerable and hardest to reach girls – whether they are married, or at risk of child marriage. These girls are also often at higher risk of being trafficked or exploited, and are unable to access government services, often because their births or marriages were never legally registered. Reducing inequalities means not leaving anyone behind, no matter where they are and how hard they are to reach.
Child marriage is not only a human rights violation, it is a form of violence against women and girls. Girls who marry as children are at risk of sexual, physical, and psychological violence throughout their lives; they are particularly at risk of violence from their partners or their partners’ families. Ending child marriage – and violence against women and girls – means investing in programmes that address its root causes, with emphasis on addressing the norms and beliefs that discriminate by placing less value on girls and women than boys and men. It means implementing strong legal and political frameworks which set the minimum age of marriage at 18, ensure access to education and health services, and protect girls’ rights.
Child marriage prevalence rates in Uganda.