Unite Against Child Marriage (UACM)

One in nine girls in developing countries are forced into marriage before the age of 15. It is estimated that in the next 10 years, approximately 14 million child marriages will occur each year in developing countries.[1] Child marriage is a reality for many girls and boys, however it disproportionally affects girls.

Child marriage is driven by social and economic factors. Marriage is often seen as a means of ‘protection’ for young girls. For many poor families in developing countries, child marriage is a means to escape poverty by having one less mouth to feed and provide for. But ultimately the frequency of child marriages reflects the low value of girls within society globally.

Child marriage is a violation of human rights and has serious implications on a girl’s health and development. Girls under the age of fifteen are five times more likely to die during pregnancy.[2] Even when children born to adolescent mothers survive, they face an increased risk of low birth weight, under-nutrition, and develop­mental delays.[3] Child marriage also hinders the capacity of girls to develop emotionally and physically. They are not only denied their childhood but are often socially isolated with limited opportunities for education and employment. Girls are frequently unable to effectively negotiate safe sex leaving them vulnerable to sexual transmitted infections and HIV.

In India approximately 50% of girls are married before the age of 18. In some districts this figure rises as high as 75%. In Malawi, government statistics show that 50% of women are married by their 18th birthday, with some girls as young as 9 or 10 being forced into marriage.



[1] UNFPA. (2013) State of the World Population 2013: Motherhood in Childhood. New York, NY: United Nations Population Fund.
[2] UNICEF. (2008) State of the World’s Children 2009. New York, NY: United Nations Children’s Fund.
[3] UNICEF. (2008) State of the World’s Children 2009. New York, NY: United Nations Children’s Fund.
continue to objectives

Overall objective

Structurally reduce the number of child marriages in the intervention areas in Malawi and India.

Specific objectives

  1. Improved position of girls (empowerment): young people, women and men are able to make informed decisions on SRHR-issues;
  2. Access to formal education for girls: improved access to formal, relevant and qualitative education;
  3. Involvement of local communities: girls and young women are able to exercise their SRHR-rights and not forced into child/early/forced marriage;
  4. Development and application of legislation and policy against child marriage: there is a favourable policy and legal environment to prevent child marriage.
  5. Improved access for SRHR services: improved quality and use of SRHR services by young people
continue to approach

The Unite Against Child Marriage Alliance (UACM) programme is implemented by the Dutch SRHR Alliance (Simavi, Amref, Choice, Dance4Life, Rutgers) and Edukans.

The programme uses five strategies to empower girls and fight the practice of child marriage in India and Malawi:

  1. Empowerment of girls
  2. Access to formal education
  3. Involving local communities
  4. Development and improvement of legislation and policies
  5. Improved access to SRHR services

These strategies ensure a multi-sector approach to ending child marriage that recognises the importance of empowering girls, mobilising communities and building an enabling environment for legislative change.

Simavi’s activities

Simavi’s approach consists of an integrated approach to SRHR, which includes four of the five UACM alliance strategies (excluding access to formal education). Simavi uses a bottom-up approach to involve all key stakeholders and enhance the understanding, and ability of young people to exercise their SRHR related rights. FIETS principles are implemented to ensure sustainable change. Each strategy is implemented through context specific activities. These activities include (but are not limited to):

  • Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and assertiveness training for girls (and boys);
  • Workshops and information sessions for stakeholders in the community (religious leaders, parents, teachers, health professionals and SRHR paralegals) on child marriages and the rights of girls;
  • Legal assistance (paralegal support) for girls, plus legal support to ensure compliance with existing legislation;
  • Training health workers and staff in SRHR clinics for adolescents to provide youth friendly services;
  • Outreach meetings in communities to raise awareness on the issues of child marriage and the importance of SRHR;
  • Workshops with traditional community leaders/chiefs to discuss child marriage and change local bylaws to raise the marriage age;
  • Create youth clubs and strengthen existing youth clubs, so that issues of child marriage can be discussed there;
  • Train peer educators on SRHR issues.

The UACM programme seeks to change harmful cultural practices that normalize child marriage whilst providing girls with SRH knowledge and access to the services they need to make informed health decisions. Together, these strategies will provide girls and their communities with the tools and knowledge to stop early and forced marriages and give girls a better start in life.

continue to result

The UACM programme is implemented in line with a results framework that tracks progress made against key outcome and output indicators.

Several key output indicators that Simavi tracked with its partners were:

Community empowerment

  • 207,531 (target: 159,211) people directly reached with education on SRHR;
  • 191,310 (target: 150,880)  people who particpated in awareness raising;
  • 4,183 (target: 2,881) members of community group trained.

Enabling environment

  • 56 memberships in partner countries;
  • 77 (target: 32) representatives at advocacy meetings.

You can find a complete programme results overview of 2015 here.


Situation Approach Result

Programme information

  • Simavi Budget

    € 541,513

  • Overal Budget

    € 1,370,219

  • 1 years

  • Location

    India: Bihar, Jhakand and Orissa;
    Malawi: Mzimba, Mangochi and Dedza.

  • Target groups

    Young girls and their communities.

  • Alliance partners

    SRHR Alliance (Simavi, Rutgers WPF, AMREF Flying Doctors, Dance4Life and CHOICE) and Edukans.

  • Implementing partners

    India: VHAI, CINI, BVHA;
    Malawi: CCAP Health Department, YONECO, CEGI.

  • Donors

    Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Role of Simavi

    Simavi is the UACM lead. Simavi is the country lead in India and implements in India and Malawi.

Further reading

Do you want to know more about UACM?

Please contact our colleague Loan Liem.

+31 (0)88 313 15 75

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