Child marriage


Child marriage has a direct impact on girls accessing secondary education. Child marriage is a global problem: 15 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year, many as young as 8. In developing countries, 1 in every 3 girls marries before they are 18.

Child marriage

The practice is most prevalent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and in some parts of Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. In several countries in West Africa and in Bangladesh, two-thirds of girls are married before age 18.

Removed from school

Girls are often removed from school to prepare for a wedding or to work in order to save for a dowry, once married they are not permitted to continue their education.

Child marriage lies at the intersection of a broad set of problems facing girls. The practice violates girls’ human rights, curtails their education, harms their health, and sharply constrains their futures.

Girls who marry early are most often deprived of the opportunity to reach their full potential and rise out of poverty. The negative consequences of early marriage ripple across entire societies, undermining achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Generations damaged

Early marriage usually marks the end of girls’ education, the investment that could have the greatest payoff for both their development and for national development goals.

The consequences of early marriage reach beyond the lives of young married girls themselves to the next generation.

Children of young, uneducated mothers are less likely to have a good start to their education, to do well in class, or to continue beyond minimum schooling. The daughters of uneducated mothers are especially likely to drop out of school, marry young, and begin the cycle again.

Girl facts

open quotes Every 3 seconds, another girl is forced or coerced to marry.close quotes

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