Press Release

Bangladesh government steps up efforts to end child marriage, reaching over 6 million nationwide, supported by UNFPA and UNICEF

06 June 2024

UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage announces phase III, urging increased and targeted investments as well as strengthened legislations to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Photo: © UNICEF Bangladesh/2024

DHAKA, 5 June 2024 – The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs in Bangladesh, in collaboration with UNFPA and UNICEF, launched today the Phase III of the joint Global Programme to End Child Marriage (GPECM).


Set to run till 2030, the Global Programme targets the most marginalized communities across the country and aims to bolster resources and sharpen focus to support the Government of Bangladesh on its endeavor to end child marriage. The new phase will focus on strengthening the legal framework against child marriage, increasing education completion rates, and shifting social norms by leveraging the Government’s social protection schemes and engaging with communities.


To meet Sustainable Development Goal 5, which calls for the elimination of child marriage by 2030, Bangladesh must accelerate its efforts by 22 times.[1] While latest available data indicates a downward trend in child marriage in many districts, an increase is appreciated in others, affecting those most vulnerable - Affluent and educated girls experience more significant reductions, while child marriage remains high among underprivileged, uneducated, and rural girls.


While addressing the launching event Ms. Simeen Hussain (Rimi), Honorable State Minister, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs said, “Eradicating child marriage is a cornerstone of our commitment to safeguarding the rights of children in Bangladesh. We commend the collaborative efforts of UNFPA and UNICEF and affirm our commitment to working closely and effectively to implement the National Plan of Action to End Child Marriage and roll out the Child Marriage Restraint Act. We also must focus on the behavioural aspect for changing people’s outlook as law alone cannot change what is being practiced for long.”


Photo: © UNICEF Bangladesh/2024

The Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh has publicly pledged to abolish marriages for girls under the age of 18 by 2041.[2] Supporting the government, the Global

Programme will leverage multi-sectoral, scalable, and evidence-based interventions to ensure the full execution of the National Plan of Action to End Child Marriage.


“Currently, the rate of reduction of child marriage in Bangladesh is only 2.1 percent per year, which means it will take Bangladesh over two centuries — 215 years — to eliminate child marriage,” said Ms. Kristine Blokhus, Country Representative to UNFPA Bangladesh.


"Keeping girls in school is a game changer. Increased, targeted investments in sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education equip adolescent girls with the tools to make informed decisions about their bodies and lives and empower them as agents of change and future leaders," she added.


"UNICEF is entering this new phase with a renewed commitment to empowering every child, especially rural adolescent girls and young women with life skills,” said Mr. Stanley Gwavuya, OIC Representative of UNICEF in Bangladesh. “Working in districts with a high prevalence of child marriage, we will work with partners to address the root causes, engage key actors, and provide comprehensive support to both unmarried and married adolescent girls."


During the previous phases, UNFPA and UNICEF collaborated closely to assist the government in reaching 5.5 million girls, analysing factors driving child marriage, empowering grassroots organizations, and strengthening services and protection for vulnerable girls in Bangladesh.


Over the next four years (2024-2027), UNFPA and UNICEF aims to achieve significant milestones through the joint workplan by engaging over 1,200,000 adolescent girls (aged 10-19) in life skills or comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) interventions.


Additionally, over 6,100,000 individuals will be reached with mass media messaging on child marriage, the rights of adolescent girls, and gender equality. The program will also involve 2,174,300 individuals and 1,206,413 boys and men in group education and dialogue sessions in addressing harmful masculinities and gender norms.


Photo: © UNICEF Bangladesh/2024

The joint efforts of UNFPA, UNICEF, and partners underscore the collective determination to ensure every girl and boy in Bangladesh can enjoy their childhood and thrive to their full potential without the threat of child marriage. In particular, the initiative will address the root causes of child marriage such as poverty, gender-based violence, limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, climate shocks, and humanitarian emergencies.


Launched in 2016, the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage is the largest global initiative to address child marriage. It is supported globally by the Governments of Belgium, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Zonta International.





For more information please contact:


Faria Selim, Communication specialist, UNICEF Bangladesh, Email:


Asma Akter, National Programme Officer - Communication (Social and Media), UNFPA Bangladesh,  Email:



UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative