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Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
Classement international*


* Références

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

Photo credit: Jane Mingay | Girls Not Brides

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
Classement international*


* Références

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

40% of Nepalese girls are married before their 18th birthday and 7% are married before the age of 15.

Nepal has the 16th highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world and the 17th highest absolute number of child brides – 662,000.

10% of Nepalese boys are married before the age of 18. According to UNICEF, Nepal is among the top 10 countries worldwide with the highest prevalence of child marriage and early unions among boys.

There are high prevalence rates of child marriage in Province 2 (Nepal’s southern border with Bihar, India), and along the borders between Provinces 5 and 6 (extending into Uttar Pradesh, India), where more than half of girls are married before age 18.

A 2017 World Bank/ICRW study estimates that ending child marriage in Nepal could see a 12.7% rise in earnings and productivity for Nepali women who married early.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.

In Nepal, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Poverty: Marriage is seen as a way to reduce the economic “burden” of girls on their families, especially during food insecurity. Girls living in the poorest households are more likely to marry than those living in the richest households. The payment of dowry by a bride’s family to the husband’s family remains widespread despite being illegal.
  • Harmful traditional practices: Most child marriages in Nepal are arranged, and sometimes forced, by family members. In 2016, Human Rights Watch found that girls in some areas were being married off as young as 18 months of age. In some communities, family members believe they will go to heaven if they marry off girls before There is also a persistent cultural value attached to the preservation of “girls’ purity” and shame surrounding sex outside marriage. All of this encourages girls being married off early.
  • Country-specific practices: The practice of chhaupadi (isolating menstruating women and girls, who have to sleep in huts) is criminalised but remains widespread in some parts of Nepal. This practice makes girls more vulnerable to sexual violence and keeps them out of school, which in turn puts girls at higher risk of being married off.
  • Self-initiated marriage: An increasing number of girls and boys in Nepal are marrying spouses of their own choosing. These are known as “love marriages” and are sometimes used to escape abusive circumstances at home or arranged marriage. Adolescents may also elope because sex is not acceptable outside marriage. In addition, the lack of access to information about sexuality and contraception, together with stigma, may rush girls to get married if they become pregnant.
  • Caste system: Children of socially marginalised dalit communities are at higher risk of being married off because of discrimination and limited access to resources.


Humanitarian settings can encompass a wide range of situations before, during, and after natural disasters, conflicts, and epidemics. They exacerbate poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education, factors which all drive child marriage. Often in times of crisis, families see child marriage as a way to cope with greater economic hardship and to protect girls from increased violence. Nepal is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world due to its location and variable climatic conditions.

Natural disasters: It was reported that the 2015 earthquake led to a dramatic rise in child marriages and trafficking, as criminals targeted orphaned children and some families tried to protect their daughters by marrying them off.

What has this country committed to?

Nepal has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government did not provide an update on progress towards this target during its Voluntary National Review at the 2017 High Level Political Forum.

Nepal co-sponsored the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage.

Nepal ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1991, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2016, the Rights on the Child Committee expressed concerns about the prevalence of child marriage in Nepal and the contradictions in the legislation regarding child marriage. The Committee also recommended Nepal to assess the impact of the 2015 earthquake on girls’ vulnerability to child marriage.

In 2018, the CEDAW Committee expressed similar concerns about child marriage and urged Nepal to take measures to address this harmful practice.

During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, Nepal noted that several recommendations related to combatting early and forced marriage were already being implemented, including awareness-raising with families.

Nepal is a member of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC) which adopted a regional action plan to end child marriage from 2015-2018.

Representatives of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Nepal, asserted the Kathmandu Call to Action to End Child Marriage in Asia in 2014. As part of its commitment, Nepal will ensure access to legal remedies for child brides and establish a uniform minimum legal age of marriage of 18.

In 2019, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, Tham Maya Thapa, Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizen, on behalf of the Government of Nepal committed to end all forms of violence against women and girls including child, early and forced marriage by 2030, by prioritising the enforcement of legislation and providing adequate financial resources for that purpose.

At the 2014 London Girl Summit, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.

Nepal is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and one of 11 countries working to create child marriage-free communities by 2020 as part of the Her Choice Alliance.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

Nepal is a focus country of the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, a multi-donor, multi-stakeholder programme working across 12 countries over four years. In 2018, the Global Programme supported almost 7500 girls to stay in school and almost 100 health posts provided adolescent girl-friendly services.

Following delays due to the 2015 earthquake, the government launched its National Strategy to End Child Marriage in 2016, with support from UNICEF and Girls Not Brides Nepal. The strategy aims to end child marriage by 2030, with particular focus on the most-affected districts. It has six components:

  • Empower girls (including economic empowerment)
  • Provide quality education for girls
  • Engage men and boys
  • Mobilise families and communities to change social norms
  • Strengthen and provide services
  • Implement laws and policies.

The government has also developed a fully costed National Action Plan (NAP) for the strategy and a monitoring and evaluation framework, but implementation has been delayed due to ongoing national and provincial elections, as the country undergoes a full decentralisation process following the creation of its new 2015 Constitution.

In 2018, Human Rights Watch warned that the implementation of the National Strategy remains stalled. But, the NAP has served a useful advocacy tool for integrating actions to respond to child marriage through sectoral programmes including the Multisectoral Nutrition Plan (MSNP), 2018–2022.

In 2018, a new Adolescent Health and Development Strategy was endorsed by the Ministry of Health and Population with ending child marriage as one of its key targets. The strategy’s monitoring and evaluation framework includes child marriage indicators in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The government organised its own Girl Summit in Kathmandu in 2016 to reaffirm its commitment to ending child marriage by 2030 and another around International Day of the Girl in 2018. As a result, several provinces and local governments have also designed their own schemes to end harmful practices including child marriage. While province level costed plans have also been developed, their implementation has been weak due to lack of funds.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Marriage Registration Act the minimum legal age of marriage in Nepal is 20 years for girls and boys. They are able to marry at 18 years with parental consent.

In 2018, it was enacted the Act Relating to Children, which specifically prohibits and criminalises the act of ‘fixing the marriage’ of a child, which relates to the practice of arranging the engagement of young children in some Nepali communities.


Department for International Development, Nepal Girl Summit, [website], 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nepal-girl-summit (accessed December 2019).

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Girl Summit 2014, The Girl Summit Charter on Ending FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage, [website], 2015, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/459236/Public_Girl_Summit_Charter_with_Signatories.pdf (accessed December 2019).

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Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

Partenariat national  Nepal

Girls Not Brides Nepal is the official Girls Not Brides National Partnership in Nepal.

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