About FGM & Child Marriage
women worldwide today were married before the age of 18, with an estimated
12 million more girls being married each year. An additional 120 million girls are at risk of being married by 2030 if current rates continue (UNICEF).
Girls become child brides
Girls undergo FGM
Source: UN, Global Giving
Definitions of FGM & Child Marriage
Female Genital Mutilation involves the complete or partial removal of female sexual organs, serving as a mechanism to control girls' sexual behavior (UNFPA).
Child marriage is defined as any marriage where at least one of the participants is under 18. All child marriage is internationally considered forced marriage (OHCHR).
Root Causes of FGM & Child Marriage
FGM and child marriage both result from a combination of extreme poverty, cultural norms, and a lack of education (Kenya Big Dream Project, PLAN International).
Over 60% of FGM survivors belonged to the poorest sector of society.
Over 50% of girls from the poorest families in developing countries were married as children.
In Kenya, 92% of people want the practice of FGM to stop.
In 2011, Kenya passed the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act.
Girls with no education are 3X as likely to be married by 18 compared to those with secondary education.
Over 65% of women who have undergone FGM had no formal education.
Creating skills-programs and entrepreneurship opportunities for girls and their communities, they can lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
Utilizing the momentum of community support backed by a legal framework that is focused on protecting girls, changing cultural norms is possible.
Prioritizing the importance of educating girls is essential to ensure they have the tools and the opportunities to pursue hope-filled futures of their own design.
In addressing these root causes of female genital mutilation and child marriage, girls will have the chance to thrive in hope-filled futures of their own design, and break the cycle of gender-based violence. Education makes all the difference: In Kenya, women with any formal education are more than 8.5X less likely to subject their daughters to FGM (Population Reference Bureau).
In regions where poverty is severe, FGM and marriage may feel like the only viable option for a girl's family to endure economic hardships or secure any future for their daughter at all, as the bride price may be the only 'secure' source of income (Girls Not Brides). In the areas where we work, FGM is a prerequisite for marriage, resulting in girls undergoing the practice at younger ages as resources become scarcer, and families become more desperate.
These root causes are solvable. By utilizing a holistic approach to tackle them, girls can thrive in futures of their own design.
Impacts of FGM & Child Marriage
Impacts of FGM on Girls
FGM's impact on mental and physical health is severe, often causing post-traumatic stress, severe pain and bleeding, infection, and death due to hemorrhagic or neurogenic shock. It also causes significant long-term health issues including chronic pain, difficulties in childbirth, and fistula (UNFPA).
Impacts of Child Marriage on Girls
Child marriage is a threat to girls’ health and to their futures, as girls that are married young often become pregnant as teenagers, with nine out of 10 teenage pregnancies occurring within a marriage or union in developing countries (UNFPA). This drastically increases the risk of complications in pregnancy and childbirth for these girls, as this is the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide (Annals of Global Health).
Girls who are married as children are also more likely to experience domestic violence (UNICEF). In addition, child marriage also leads to high drop out rates as girls miss out on education as they are forced to take on household responsibilities, and are at increased risk for contracting HIV (UNFPA).
Impacts of FGM & Child Marriage on Communities & Economies
Aside from the acute short- and long-term costs to individual women, the generational costs hinder communities, countries, and the world’s potential. Women's contributions to the economy become limited, and the annual associated health costs of FGM amount to $1.4 billion USD globally, with the possibility of this figure increasing by 60% after 2050 if immediate action is not taken (WHO).
In addition to the significant physical and emotional damage child marriage and female genital mutilation cause an individual girl, the resulting impact on her community is also important to consider. Girls who continue their education and are provided with economic opportunities can contribute to the growth of the global economy, and to the resilience of their local communities.