In many developing countries it is common practice to marry off girls before the age of 18. Consequently, when girls are married at such a young age, they do not receive an education. This practice can cost countries billions of dollars, according to the World Bank. However, recent studies show that ending child marriage could reduce global poverty.
Child marriage, which primarily affects girls, has many consequences. It causes overpopulation, poor health for said child and it tends to lead to violence. Conversely, ending child marriage would have lasting social advantages and economic benefits, such as an increase in the girls’ earnings.
“Child marriage not only puts a stop to girls’ hopes and dreams. It also hampers efforts to end poverty and achieve economic growth and equity,” said Quentin Wodon, lead author of the World Bank’s report on the economic cost of child marriage. “Ending this practice is not only the morally right thing to do but also the economically smart thing to do.”
Ending child marriage would save countries a lot of money — by 2030, countries could save $327 million in education budgets alone. In Africa, seeing an end to child marriage could save up to $5 billion as a result of lower malnutrition, according to the Global Partnership for Education. It could also reduce fertility rates by 10 percent, which would reduce overpopulation and global poverty by extension.
So, what’s the best way to end child marriage? Simply keeping girls in school.
Education is the best way to end child marriage because it allows girls to be more independent and strong-minded. The longer a girl is in school, the less likely it is that she will be married young. Unfortunately, there are societies that deem education a luxury and a “waste of resources.” Such societies are also threatened by the independence a female would gain by being educated.
Failure to educate girls has its own negative implications. In the same manner that ending child marriage can increase a girl’s earnings in the future, so too can having an education. In fact, some countries lose out on an estimated $92 billion of economic growth for failing to properly educate their girls.
Pooja (not her real name), a girl from Nepal, knew education would have given her a better life. “If I had studied I would have been working. But my parents held my marriage and I couldn’t do anything after marriage. I now have children to look after,” she said.
Everything is connected. Seeing girls educated could potentially end child marriage which would potentially reduce global poverty.
– Dezanii Lewis