Each year, 12 million young women under the age of 18 are married in the world. That’s one in five girls! This represents a serious violation of human rights. Girls are disproportionately affected by the practice of child marriage – about five time more than boys!
Why is this not OK? How child marriage disempowers girls?
Child marriage disempowers girls, closes off opportunities for their development and leads directly to adolescent pregnancy and its associated higher risks of maternal and child mortality. Moreover, child marriage is one of the main causes of school dropout among teenage girls.
So, what can be done right now to prevent child marriage?
To prevent child marriage, more can be done by:
- Educating and mobilizing families, communities and leaders to invest in adolescent girls:
Parents and community members, including men and boys, are often primary decision-makers on child marriage! Engaging them in discussions on the value of educating girls and the negative consequences of child marriage can persuade families and communities to opt out of early marriage and support girls to realize their aspirations by showing alternative possibilities for their future.
- Investing in sexual and reproductive health, education and protection services:
Improved access to quality education, health, child protection and social protection leads to better outcomes for adolescent girls. These services can support them in preventing adolescent pregnancy, continuing their education, and building their own future.
- Keeping girls into schools, especially at adolescence and promoting school enrolment for girls:
Education must remain a priority to give girls a chance to make significant choices that are an essential part of growing up.
- Empowering girls with life skills.
Girls must be fully informed about the consequences of child marriage and learn to advocate for their own interests. Providing them with information and fundamental life skills while helping them build support networks and remain in school can promote their learning and self-esteem. They will then be more able to make informed decisions and negotiate life on their own terms. Make sure that you read our “Future is yours” and “Career advice” contents.The future is yours! Career Advice
If you feel pressured to marry, please report through your national Child Helpline calling the free-toll number 116.
- Providing girls and women with more economic opportunities. This can be a way to decrease child marriage since they can afford to delay marriage more easily. It can also increase women’s decision making within the household which is associated with a delay in child marriage.
Ending child marriage is essential to enable millions of girls the opportunity for a better life and to realize their full potential. It also helps avert significant economic costs related to fertility, health, nutrition, education and earnings – not only for the girl brides, but also for their families and the countries where the practice prevails.