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Tipping Point

The Tipping Point initiative identifies the root causes of child, early, and forced marriage and facilitates innovative strategies to create alternative paths for adolescent girls.

The project also seeks to influence the way policymakers, donors, researchers, and civil society approach the issue of child marriage, specifically to steer the global discourse beyond short-term solutions.


Tipping Point is a multi-country initiative addressing child marriage by focusing on its root causes. We see child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) as an act of violence, so we enable girls to assert their rights, help families and communities to support them, and influence policy to sustain change.


Phase 1 (2013-2017)

Phase 1 (2013-2017) of this three-phase project used complementary approaches with groups of girls, boys, and parents—who regularly participated in meetings—as well as advocacy events to raise public awareness and promote gender-equitable social norms. The project also engaged allies and potential champions for girls’ rights, including government and civil society, to help drive social change and direct more resources toward girls’ empowerment in project communities. Key to this advocacy was a focus on acknowledging fear and control of adolescent girls’ sexuality as a driver of CEFM.

Phase 2 (2017-2020)

For Phase 2 (2017-2020), Tipping Point has used the findings from Phase 1 to develop and test a holistic and replicable implementation package. Tipping Point engages different participant groups (girls, boys, parents, community leaders, etc.) around key programmatic topics, and creates public spaces for all community members to be part of the dialogue. Tipping Point’s approach is rooted in challenging social expectations and repressive norms and promoting movements and activism that are led by girls. These components are designed to help adolescent girls find places where they can reflect on and tackle inequality, and then take collective action on those issues.

Phase 3 (2020-2023)

In Phase 3, Tipping Point will use information gathered from successful approaches to addressing CEFM to advocate for girls’ increased visibility and meaningful participation in movements that seek to expand their voice, choice, agency, and rights. Additionally, Tipping Point is campaigning for governments and donors to recognize and be held accountable to implement and fund evidence-based policies and strategies that address the root causes of CEFM. Lastly, Phase 3 will seek to make CARE’s programming more accountable to our commitment to girls’ rights by investing in social norms and gender-transformative approaches for adolescent girls across sectors.

Program achievements

Phase 1

  • Key social norms that restrict girls’ opportunities and autonomy loosened slightly: Girls showed increased mobility and visibility, parent-adolescent relationships improved, and parents were less concerned with family honor.
  • Girls gained psychosocial skills, knowledge of their rights, social capital, and increased confidence.
  • Strong allies for girls emerged in project villages.
  • Project staff transformed their assumptions about men, women, work, and how to lead change.
  • Parents demonstrated a greater commitment to their daughters’ education and defended girls’ rights to be active citizens.
  • Girls demonstrated growth in their communication and negotiation skills, personal aspirations, and practical knowledge.
  • Boys grew into better brothers for their sisters and started to think critically about their place in a family.

Phase 2

  • Facilitated girl-led collective actions with a demonstrated increase in girls’ sense of agency.
  • Baseline reports of a randomized control trial evaluation can be found here; the endline results will be published in 2022 and are expected to show a significant impact of the Tipping Point implementation on agency, relations, structures, and social norms perpetuating CEFM.

The importance of Tipping Point

Tipping Point is unique in its thorough integration of a social norms approach, including a focus on the control of adolescent sexuality as a root cause of CEFM, the integrated implementation package, and rigorous measurement of the change in norms that occurs. Tipping Point’s “root cause” approach combines a focus on girls’ agency, the supportive relationships around them, and the structures that set the rules for their lives, so girls and their allies can assert their rights through girl-led collective action.

Through Her Lens

In Phase 3, Tipping Point Bangladesh centers girls’ experiences and evidence-based strategies to facilitate transformative change. To do this, the Initiative works alongside and supports movements that seek to expand the voices, choices, agency, and rights of adolescent girls.

A Bangladeshi girl smiles while posing in front of a mirror.


Tipping Point Adolescent Empowerment Index

Tipping Point, in collaboration with Bangladesh’s International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research (icddr,b), developed and tested the Tipping Point Adolescent Empowerment Index, to strengthen and standardize the measurement of various components of adolescent empowerment in our programs.

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Girl-led Social Norms Shifting Activities

This brief provides an overview and examples of the key components of effective social norms shifting activities led by girls.

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Technical Brief: Girl-Led Activism and Structured Allyship

This provides an overview of the way that Tipping Point cultivated girl-led activism and movement building and engaged allies to support those girls. This brief accompanies Tipping Point’s Boys and Parents Allyship Implementation Manual and the forthcoming Girls’ Activism Toolkit.

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Tipping Point Frequently Asked Questions

This brief answers the questions most asked about the Tipping Point program, such as how it differs from other initiatives working on child marriage, the main differences between the three phases of the initiative, whether Tipping Point works with local organizations, and more.

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Tackling the taboo: sexuality and gender-transformative programmes to end child, early and forced marriage and unions

Tackling the Taboo focuses on the need to address patriarchal control of adolescent girls’ sexuality in the fight against child, early and forced marriage and unions, and highlights the vital role played by gender-transformative programs. The report presents findings from a review of 23 organizations that work at the intersection of CEFM and sexuality, and includes three case studies that feature the work of grassroots organizations working in politically and culturally conservative contexts.

Read more on the Girls Not Brides website

Understanding the Root Causes of Child Marriage: Executive Summary of Baseline Findings from the Tipping Point Evaluation in Bangladesh and Nepal

Tipping Points’ RCT baseline evaluation, measuring the rates of child marriage, adolescent girls’ agency and social norms in Bangladesh and Nepal demonstrate the key drivers of child, early and forced marriage in Tipping Point program areas, and contain recommendations for policy and practice. Available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic.

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Tipping Point Phase 3 Program Summary

Phase 3 is the culmination of six years of multi-level programming and advocacy to critically engage the discourse on CEFM. Tipping Point centers girls’ experiences and evidence-based strategies to facilitate transformative change. To do this, we work alongside and support movements that seek to expand the voices, choices agency and rights of adolescent girls. Tipping Point will also build on the growing body of evidence and programmatic experience from Phases 1 and 2 to influence positive change on girls’ rights and CEFM alongside donors, governments and our peers.

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Tipping Point Phase 2 Baseline Social Norms Findings Brief

This brief presents the combined findings from baseline evaluation in Nepal and Bangladesh on the five social norms on which Tipping Point programming focuses. The findings from the social norms’ data suggest that as soon as girls hit puberty, they experience more restrictive norms and their own sensitivity to sanctions from families and community members leads to girls upholding these norms in their behavior. There are some signs of flexibility in repressive norms restricting girls’ lives and options, especially when it comes to flexibility in interactions, mobility and decision about marriage for girls in school settings or in order to pursue education. However, perceived threats to a girls’ virginity or reputation as “chaste” that affect her marriageability acts as a push factor towards child marriage. However, girls depicted confidence to come together for a common purpose. The Tipping Point Initiative seeks to tap this confidence to engage girls in movement building to demand their rights while facilitating a supportive environment of increasingly positive norms and a network of allies to shift harmful and restrictive norms. Available in English, French, and Arabic.

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See the full list of Tipping Point program resources and the full list of Tipping Point MEAL resources, as well as our evaluation and results.

Child Grooms in Nepal

Married at 8 years old, former child groom Pannilal Yadav dropped out of school, uncertain what his future would hold. Today — a husband, father and activist — 25-year-old Pannilal works with CARE to end child marriage in Nepal.

A black and white image of a large group of people sitting in front of a building. On the right hand side, a boy is standing.