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The Crippling Effects on Poverty of Child Brides and the Benefits of Abolishment
The “Economic Impacts of Child Marriage” project (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and the Global Partnership for Education are a few of many projects whose goals were to abolish child marriages. These movements were apart of a three-year research project led by the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women.

A Global Research Project

The research project explored the impacts of child marriage in fertility and population growth, educational attainment and learning, labor force participation, decision-making and investments, health, nutrition and violence. Through this project’s research, the organization concluded that ending the practice of child marriage could save the global economy trillions of dollars between now and 2030.

Poverty-ridden families offering their daughters as child brides is a common means at eliminating certain living costs. Once a daughter is sent away for marriage, there is one less person to feed, clothe and educate; moreover, a dowry or “bride price” is often welcome income for these poor families. However, younger girls are often the chosen demographic for this practice since the older a girl gets, the more expensive the dowry becomes.

Issues with the Practice of Child Brides

One of the main problems with this practice is its invocation of an endless cycle of poverty. Younger girls married away for money often do not get the chance to continue their education; this occurrence severely limits the opportunities of economic growth for both her immediate and newly extended family.

Child brides also have to perform a great deal of unpaid work in the home, such as cleaning, cooking and caring for their husbands, in-laws and children. However, not marrying early and staying in school often leads to a girl becoming healthier and wealthier. In fact, an extra year of primary education for girls also can boost their future earnings by 15 percent.

Consequences of Premature Marriage for Child Brides

There are several severe consequences of child brides who are married off prematurely. Girls who get married early often have to break off previous relationships after marriage and cannot maintain connections with people outside of their families. Isolation can cause severe psychological consequences for both mothers and their babies.

There are also the strains the life of a wife can take on such a young girl’s body. Specifically, early child-bearing is a common incident that risks both young girls’ and their babies’ lives. According to the World Health Organization, the most frequent cause of death in young women aged 15 to 18 is complications during pregnancy and birth.

The non-governmental organization Girls Not Brides has also found “when a mother is under 20, her child is 50 percent more likely to be stillborn or die within its first weeks of life than a baby born to an older mother.”

The International Costs of Child Brides

The World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women has estimated that by 2030 child marriage will ironically cost developing countries trillions in dollars. These organizations push for an end of child brides as a means to alleviate immediate poverty and produce long-lasting economic growth.

The World Bank notes that ending child marriages would have a strong positive effect on the educational levels of girls and their children as well as increase women’s expected earnings. In addition, household welfare, substantial reductions in population growth over time and reduction in rates of under-five mortality and delayed physical development were found.

All in all, the marriage of child brides is a practice that should be abandoned for it numerous economic, personal and societal costs.

– Richard Zarrilli

Photo: Flickr

G8 Summit

By the time the G8 Summit took place on 17th-18th June, several nations were already taking action to combat child malnutrition. On June 8th, at a nutrition for growth summit co-hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, the vice-president of Brazil, Michel Temer, and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, commitments of up to $4.15 billion were pledged by developed nations. These pledges will double the funding currently given to global nutrition.

Additionally, a global ‘nutrition for growth’ compact was signed by representatives of 24 governments and 28 businesses, as well as various science organizations. The focus of this compact is to provide benefits to at least 500 million women and children through effective nutrition interventions, reduce the incidences of stunted growth due to malnutrition, and save at least 1.7 million lives by the treatment of severe malnutrition.

The benefits of this could be far reaching. Reports point to malnutrition as the underlying cause in the death of 3.1 million children annually, as well as adversely affecting the growth and development of another 165 million. As a result of this, it is estimated that Africa and Asia lose 11% of GDP every year due to issues surrounding malnutrition.

Commitments, though, are equally important from the developing countries in terms of  spending on nutrition and prioritizing internal poverty and hunger. And in some instances, these pledges were forthcoming. The president of Malawi, Joyce Banda, pledged Malawi would treble spending on nutrition (from 1% to 3.3%) by 2020. Simliarly, Burkina Faso committed to reducing chronic malnutrition from affecting 32.9% of the population to 25% by 2020.

It will take this tandem effort to ensure that the pledges made are actually brought to fruition. Both the developed and the developing nations must work together to ensure that the aims of the summit are achieved and that no more innocent lives are wasted.

– David Wilson

Source: The Guardian

malnutrition
United Nations officials met with key country leaders at the Nutrition for Growth summit held in London last week to discuss pledged funds and political agreements in the fight against global hunger.  Millions of infants and pregnant women are at risk for stunting and deaths from malnutrition; the Nutrition for Growth summit was a key step in securing hope and help in the fight against malnutrition. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a video message confirming the organization’s commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition in all forms worldwide.

One in four children will grow up stunted by chronic malnutrition. In today’s world, this number must be reversed. There is no reason for children to suffer from malnutrition. Commitments of funds and political support will help millions of children and boost the economies of some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. The UN is committed to do whatever it takes to see the goals reached and hunger ended.

The Nutrition for Growth summit brought together leaders from governments, the private, and non-profit sector. It was hosted by the governments from Brazil and the United Kingdom as well as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The event resulted in renewed commitments to continue to fight stunting and malnutrition worldwide. Funds pledged at the event exceeded $4 billion.

Stunting in children robs them of their health and their ability to grow up to be productive, contributing citizens. The summit focused on eliminating that prognosis for children. UNICEF also strengthened its desire to invest in fighting malnutrition and to continue to support programs working in over 65 countries to combat malnutrition.

Also signed at the summit was the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact which formalizes commitments to make nutrition a top political and socio-economic priority for donors and countries. It will focus on scientific knowledge, innovation to nutrition, and transparency and monitoring of results. Strong nutrition is key for individuals, nations, and economies to grow and become successful and the Nutrition for Growth summit is another step towards the elimination of global hunger and malnutrition.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: UN News Centre