Stop Child Marriage: Spotting the Root Causes

Child marriage continues to be a reality for many of the world’s girls because of a variety of factors. These include poverty, lack of education and job opportunities, insecurity in the face of war and conflict, and the force of custom and tradition.

For many poor families, marrying their daughter at an early age essentially is a strategy for economic survival. It means one less person to feed, cloth and educate. Globally, forced child marriage is much more common in poorer countries and regions, and within those countries, it tends to be concentrated among the poorest households.

Little or no schooling strongly correlates with being married at a young age. Conversely, attending school and having higher levels of education protect girls from the possibility of early marriage.In many countries, educating girls often is less of a priority than educating boys. When a woman’s most important role is considered to be that of a wife, mother and homemaker, schooling girls and preparing them for the jobs may be given short shrift.

Here when families live in unsafe regions, parents may genuinely believe that marrying their daughters is the best way to protect them from danger.

In many societies, parents are under pressure to marry off their daughters as early as possible in an effort to prevent her from becoming sexually active before marriage; a woman who does so brings dishonor to her family and community. Because marriage often determines a woman’s status in many societies, parents also worry that if they don’t marry their daughters according to social expectations, they will not be able to marry them at all.

Ending child marriage will yield a double dividend. It is not only the right thing to do but also it is the smart thing to do. This will help protect the human rights of adolescent girls and it will provide them opportunities to live fuller lives that could break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.

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