Worth of a Girl

“Worth of A Girl” takes a look at child marriage around the globe, and explores how being a child bride affects girls economically, educationally and emotionally. In a yearlong project, Voice of America interviewed child brides from South and East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, including the United States. Their moving stories, told through their own experiences, vividly highlight life with the families they leave and the ones they join.

Global perspective

Percentage of women married before 18
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Show map

Countries with highest rate of child marriage

According to a 2017 UNICEF report, the countries with the highest rates of child marriage before age 18 are:

by 18
Central African Republic68%
South Sudan52%
Burkina Faso52%

Select a country to explore how it compares to the region.

United States


The number of children married per 1,000, ages 15-17 years old

(That's about .6%
of 15- to 17-year-olds .)

The term ‘child marriage’ refers to formal marriages and informal unions in which a girl or boy under age 18 lives with a partner as if married. In an informal union, a couple lacks a formal civil or religious ceremony. Our graphic is based on United Nations information. The main sources are national census and household surveys, including the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Surveys are subject to sampling and measurement error. We used the U.N. child marriage and population figures to approximate how many women in each country were married before 15 and before 18.

Source: “Child Marriage Database”. UNICEF (March 2018)

“World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017)