Child marriage � marriage before the age of 18 � is globally recognized as a harmful practice and a human rights violation. Yet despite laws against it, the practice remains widespread. Globally, 21 per cent of young women are married before the age of 18.
Ending child marriage is a key priority in the strategic plans of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and together, these agencies developed the Joint Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage (GPECM).
Launched on 15 March 2016, the programme is being implemented in three phases over 15 years, reflecting the understanding that ending child marriage is a long-term goal. Beginning with an initial 12 countries in four regions, the programme was built to capture the complementarity of the work of each agency towards eradicating child marriage and uses a range of strategies, working with multiple partners at the national, regional and global levels.
This joint evaluation was undertaken collaboratively by the evaluation offices of UNFPA and UNICEF. Conducted by a team of three external consultants, the evaluation applied a variety of methods and approaches to assess progress towards results, the sustainability of interventions and programme efficiency and effectiveness.
The evaluation highlights that the programme is on track to achieve programme outputs.
Aggregate tracking suggests that the GPECM is extending its reach and accelerating its approach for most outputs. The programme has surpassed its targets, reaching millions of people in the 12 programme countries with interventions designed to end child marriage. The evaluation also notes that UNFPA and UNICEF have both played key roles in maintaining momentum to end child marriage by positioning the issue on global, regional and national agendas, providing national policy and legislative support, and demonstrating innovative community action. The programme has played a unique role in bringing together the combined capabilities of UNFPA and UNICEF to facilitate a multi-sectoral approach, which is vital to addressing the complex set of inter-related issues that enable child marriage.
On behalf of the UNICEF Evaluation Office, I would like to extend my appreciation to the evaluation team for generating a useful report, the insights from which will be valuable in designing the next phase of the programme. The evaluation team consisted of Andrea Lee Esser (team leader), Isabelle Cazottes (thematic expert) and Francoise Coupal (research/data analyst).
I would also like to thank Mathew Varghese, Valeria Carou-Jones, Karen Cadondon and Laurence Reichel for managing the evaluation.
Special thanks go to the joint Evaluation Reference Group, composed of representatives from UNFPA and UNICEF and the Steering Committee. The contribution of the GPECM leads at UNICEF and UNFPA, Nankali Maksud and Satvika Chalasani, as well as the continued support of Joseph Mabirizi, were extremely valuable. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the lead counterparts in UNFPA and UNICEF regional and country offices, especially in the three case study countries (Mozambique, Nepal and the Niger).
I commend the efforts of all those involved in this vital work, and trust that our colleagues in both UNFPA and UNICEF will find the findings, insights and recommendations useful and timely to further improve the design and overall effectiveness of the next phase of the joint global programme.
Source: UN Children's Fund