Institute for Global Health



Mapping risk and resilience to mental health consequences of child marriage in Zimbabwe

Project Summary 

Child marriage affects over 12 million girls each year, and gravely impacts the lives of those involved.  Today, over 650 million women exist who were married as children. Those married young are often at a higher risk of being poor and denied education, and they encounter various forms of violence.

While the global social justice field works tirelessly to end child marriage, the associated trauma and distress has been widely overlooked and thus we know very little about the mental health consequences of child marriage.

This study is the first known study on the mental health consequences of child marriage in the Southern African Development Community.  This study will be conducted in Zimbabwe, where 1 in 3 girls are married before the age of 18.

Using interviews and conversations with stakeholders in the wider community such as teachers, cultural leaders and health professionals, we will identify the elements which explain how child marriage and the socioeconomic challenges which Zimbabweans face, can affect mental ill-health.

Our primary aim is to map and assess pathways of risk, resilience and coping for mental health conditions in families and communities where the occurrence of child marriage is high.  This project will allow us to gain a better understanding of how child marriage contributes to poorer mental health outcomes, not only among women and girls, but also their families and wider communities.

We will develop locally relevant interventions to prevent and support mental health issues associated with this phenomenon in Zimbabwe, to be piloted and evaluated in future studies.