Sustainable child marriage interventions require long-term financing of gender, education and child protection policies. Sustainable financing models require an enabling political environment and strong systems of accountability. Such models have already emerged as a priority in the gender and child protection policy agendas, while budget advocacy has lifted the political profile of child marriage.
Budget advocacy for domestic resource mobilisation could be one of the most efficient approaches to promoting national government ownership of work on child marriage and girls’ education, and a valuable opportunity for civil society organisations (CSOs). However, lack of knowledge of budgeting processes and efforts to end child marriage in West and Central Africa indicate a need to learn from CSOs’ work in practice.
CSOs are well-placed to develop expertise on child marriage and girls’ education, and also to engage with communities where child marriage prevalence is very high. However, they also face considerable challenges in advocating for their governments to shift resources towards the people who need them most, especially girls at risk of child marriage and girls who are – or have been – married (ever-married girls).
Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage considers CSOs – as individual organisations and as collectives – to be essential agents of change who should be at the centre of efforts to address child marriage. Through its engagement with child marriage coalitions across West and Central Africa, Girls Not Brides aims to strengthen budget analysis and advocacy to end child marriage. To this end, Girls Not Brides has supported eight CSOs to implement budget advocacy pilot projects, through a project funded by Education Out Loud.
This report shares learnings from the eight pilot projects, addressing knowledge gaps and contributing to the evidence base on budget advocacy to end child marriage and promote girls' education.
The lessons learned are grouped around six themes and one case study:
- Consolidating the government’s position as a legitimate leader to end child marriage and promote girls’ education through budget advocacy.
- Increasing visibility and raising the political profile of child marriage and girls' education by leveraging CSOs’ expertise and capacity building.
- Fostering community participation in budget advocacy and ownership of solutions.
- Advancing decentralised budgeting for the elimination of child marriage and the promotion of girls’ education.
- Promoting evidence uptake from budget analysis to promote evidence-based advocacy.
- The need to rethink budget advocacy to end child marriage and promote girls’ education in crisis context.
Case study: Youth-led organisations to break the glass ceiling of budget advocacy to end child marriage and promote girls’ education – The case of the Association des Jeunes pour le Développement du Sourou (AJDS) in Burkina Faso 14
We acknowledge the achievements of the civil society organisations who implemented the budget advocacy pilot projects: Association des Jeunes pour le Développement du Sourou (AJDS, Burkina Faso), Cadre Consultatif Nigérien des Enfants et Jeunes (CCNEJ, Niger), Coalition pour la Fin du Mariage des Enfants au Togo (CFME-T), Coalition Nationale Contre le Mariage des Enfants au Burkina Faso (CONAMEB), Fédération d’Exploitants Miniers artisanaux au Congo (FEMAC), Génération Femme du Troisième Millénaire (GFM3, Côte d'Ivoire), Jeunesse Africaine et Actions de Développement (JAAD, Niger) and Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique (SIA, Mali).
This report also benefited from the expertise of colleagues working across different thematic areas at Girls Not Brides, including Emma Pearce, Mundia Situmbeko, Matilda Branson and Jacky Repila. It was written by Aïcha Awa Ba, Regional Research and Advocacy Consultant for the EOL project, Girls Not Brides.
-  In this report, we use the term “child marriage” to refer to all forms of child, early and forced marriage and unions where either party is below the age of 18.
-  ActionAid International, 2019, Collect more – and more fairly?.
-  Girls Not Brides, 2020, Civil society and budget advocacy to end child marriage: Six case studies.