Child Marriage Project


  • More than 650 million women alive today have experienced child marriage with more than one in three being married before the age of 15
  • Child marriage is defined as any formal or informal union where one or both parties is below the age of 18
  • Child marriage is a human rights violation and a form of gender-based violence
  • Child marriage has profound long-term health and socioeconomic consequences
  • Rates of child marriage are often increased in humanitarian settings


  • We conducted mixed methods research in Lebanon to understand the contextual factors contributing to increased rates of child marriage among Syrian refugee families
  • SenseMaker® app was used to collect stories about the experiences of Syrian girls in Lebanon
  • Narratives were self-interpreted by the participants using a series of pre-defined questions
  • Research was implemented in Beirut, Tripoli and the Beqqa in partnership with the ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality


    • Collected 1422 self-interpreted narratives from 1326 unique participants
    • Syrian girls and mothers were more likely to share stories about security and/or education [Figure 1, below]
    • Male participants were more likely to share stories about financial security as well as sexual exploitation [Figure 1, below]
    • Some Syrian girls in Lebanon were choosing to marry early as a way out of unfavourable living conditions at home

Figure 1

Results, continued

  • Female participants more often reported that girls were protected too much [Figure 2, below]
  • Male participants usually reported that girls were not protected enough [Figure 2, below]
  • Financial hardship, lack of educational opportunities, and safety concerns were common themes among both men and women

“In Syria, my daughter was 11 years old, and she went to school... Here, we couldn’t enroll her into any school. We were compelled to marry her after a man proposed to marry her. She has a child now. I am aware that her situation could have been better... We wanted her to be educated, but our circumstances were overwhelming. We favored marrying her to a decent man; this is better than waiting for an unwanted act/thing to happen to her.”           

Shared by a Syrian mother                      

Figure 2


  • Gender-specific strategies to reduce child marriage may be more effective given that men and women perceived child marriage differently
  • Engaging men and boys must continue to be a priority
  • The findings support holistic interventions to address child marriage, including economic, social, educational and familial strategies
  • Improved safety for Syrian girls in Lebanon is essential


Work generously funded by the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and the World Bank Group’s Development Marketplace for innovation on GBV prevention.

Implemented in a collaboration between Queen’s University and the ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality.