Understanding CEFMU: From Age to Agency

Current approaches to reducing child, early and forced marriage and unions (CEFMU) are limited by a focus on increasing the age at which girls marry, rather than on expanding their life choices. If harmful gender norms remain unchanged, postponing marriage by a few years will not necessarily expand girls’ opportunities or improve their quality of life.

To realize adolescent girls’ rights in India—and in other countries facing similar challenges—programs and policies need to address the patriarchal root causes of CEFMU. This work includes supporting girls to pursue goals beyond marriage and challenging limiting beliefs about gender held by their families, communities and institutions.

AJWS supports research that explores:

  • Programs and policies in India that aim to reduce child marriage, change gender norms and help women and girls think differently about their options in life
  • Adolescent perceptions of marriage and factors that affect age of marriage
  • Challenges faced by married girls and lessons learned from grassroots efforts to advance their rights