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Changing social norms around age of marriage in Afghanistan: data on repression and resistance under the Taliban

Research reports

Written by Mariam Safi, Evie Browne, Tony Mwenda Kamninga, Ayesha Khan

Image credit:Three young women run across a field to their home in a remote part of Ghor Province, Central Afghanistan, 2022. Jono Photography / Shutterstock.com

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021, fragile policy gains for women’s rights have been dramatically reversed.

This ODI Report provides the latest evidence for governments and development actors to understand the impact of Taliban edicts on the lives of women and girls. It explores how changing social norms around child-marriage in Afghanistan are connected to repression from a new political order under the Taliban regime.

The research shows how political insecurity, economic precarity, bans on education, and ongoing gender persecution have negatively impacted social norms around age of marriage. Families are increasingly marrying off their girls to cope with closures of education and employment opportunities – driven also by fear of forced marriage to Taliban leaders.

Underpinning this is deep gender inequality and patriarchal norms, which enforce a primarily domestic and child-bearing role for women. In order to centre the lived experiences of women and girls, the report analyses new quantitative and qualitative data on norms around age at marriage in Afghanistan, with recommendations for policymakers and the international community.