3.3 million children at risk of child marriage due to post pandemic hunger crisis 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021
  • A child that went to bed hungry in the past 4 weeks is 60% more likely to be married than their peers who did not experience hunger. 
  • Number of children experiencing crisis-level hunger increased by 12 million between 2019 to 2020, meaning an additional 3.3 million children could be married before the age of 18.  
  • Children who are not in school are 3.4 times more likely to be married than their peers that are in school.   
  • 82% of the children interviewed who were married became married after the debut of the pandemic.1  

Tuesday, 5th October, 2021 – Millions of children will be forced into early marriage because of increased poverty levels, rising hunger and reduced access to education, as a result of COVID-19– that is according to World Vision International’s latest report.  

COVID-19 and child marriage investigates how the aftershocks of the global pandemic will force children, who would not otherwise have been married off, into wedlock. As global hunger levels drastically increase, so will child marriage rates, with a hungry child being 60% more likely to be married than a child not experiencing hunger. 

“Despite the global community’s pledge to end child marriage by 2030 as part of the SDGs,  progress remains slow. Because the pandemic has increased poverty levels and hunger and decreased access to education, the risk of girls becoming child brides is also increasing. Once again, girls bear the brunt of crisis, with many being robbed of education and forced to marry men, some of whom are double their age,” said Dana Buzducea, World Vision International Partnership Leader for Advocacy and External Engagement.  

The World Vison report reveals that the surge in child marriage rates is already clearly taking place. 2020 saw the largest increase in child marriage rates in 25 years (2). According to World Vision data, between March and December 2020, child marriages more-than doubled in many communities compared to 2019 (3) In an assessment of children and families across nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region from April to June 2021, 82% of the children interviewed who were married became married after the debut of the pandemic (4).  

The report also highlights the impact that school closures has had in increasing child marriage rates and reveals that children who are not presently in school are 3.4 times more likely to be married than their peers currently in school.  

“Five million primary and secondary school-age girls potentially missing out on an education as a result of COVID-19.5 These girls are at high risk of child marriage.”  

“The root causes of child marriage drivers, such as hunger, poverty and access to education, must be urgently addressed. Governments around the world, who are focused on dealing with the fallout from the economic impacts of COVID-19, must also prioritise the protection of the world’s most vulnerable children who are at risk of suffering aftershocks of the pandemic. We cannot allow millions of children to be forced into child marriage because their parents, who are suffering from increased poverty and hunger levels, are left with little or no option than to face the horrific choice between which child they should keep and be able to feed, and which should be married. There are enough resources in the world to ensure all are fed and educated, without children being forced into marriage for survival. We must act now to prevent this,” Ms Buzducea said. 


Notes to editors

For further information or to organise an interview, please contact

Niamh Cooper |  Director of Media and Social Media Engagement | niamh_cooper@wvi.org | Skype: Niamh.cooper5 | Phone: +353 87 942 3371

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.wvi.org or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision