Girls first fund

what’s the challenge?

Each year, 12 million girls are married before they turn 18. That equates to 23 girls every minute; nearly one every two seconds. Child marriage is a complex issue, rooted in gender inequality, and fueled and sustained by factors including poverty, insecurity, and certain traditions and cultural practices. The results are clear: child brides are denied their rights to health, education, and safety, while communities and nations lose out on the full potential girls and women represent.

Text reads: “5 Gender Equality”. Red-orange square with symbol of male and female sign with an equal symbol in the center.

what’s the opportunity?

A wide range of actors working to end child marriage, including communities, civil society, governments and international organizations, have made great strides in the movement to end child marriage over the last decade. Yet there is a gap in resources reaching local communities. Recognizing that solutions must be local and contextual, the Girls First Fund identifies and supports organizations working within their communities to end this deep-rooted practice.

While many community-based organizations are making significant advances in ending child marriage, they often lack the resources to replicate or scale up their work. The Fund was established to identify the most promising community-based organizations – particularly those led by girls, women, and youth – and provide them with multi-year funding to carry out local solutions to end child marriage.

Accelerator Commitments:

  • Engage new donors with the goal of radically expanding resources to community-based organizations implementing gender transformative, girl-centered programs to end child marriage. The Fund grants in six countries—the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, India, Nepal, Niger, and Uganda—with the goal of expanding over time.
  • Invest in community-based organizations, supporting programs across a range of approaches and strategies.
  • Generate and share knowledge to champion effective and locally relevant solutions by providing a vehicle for measuring results and sharing learning.

Progress Achieved to Date:

  • Secured an additional $11 million in pledges since the announcement, totaling $46.75 million in funds committed.
  • In April 2019, provided grants to an inaugural cohort of 150 underfunded community-based organizations in six countries—the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, India, Nepal, Niger and Uganda. 142 of these organizations were provided a 2-year grant renewal in June 2020.
  • Provided formal networking, learning, and capacity building opportunities through grantee convenings hosted in each of the fund’s six grantmaking countries. Linked grantees with advocacy platforms and movements to provide community-based organizations the access to participate in, and influence, advocacy initiatives.
  • Launched VOW, a sister organization of the Girls First Fund. VOW is a 501c3 that was created to leverage partnerships with the private sector wedding industry and solicit individual donations to support the Girls First Fund’s mission and vision.

What you can do

Give to the Girls First Fund

Visit to learn how you can join us as a partner and give to the Girls First Fund. The scale of the problem is vast, and more collaboration is needed!

Give to community-based efforts

Encourage funding of community-based efforts to advance gender equity.