New Report: Educating Girls and Ending Child Marriage in Africa
Friday, December 28, 2018 9:00 AM

A recent World Bank report highlights the relationship between improving education for women and eliminating child marriage in Africa. One third of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are married before their 18th birthday, making it the region with the highest rates of child marriage worldwide. In the same region, only four out of ten girls will finish lower secondary school. Thus child marriage increases the likelihood that girls will drop out of school and have children at an early age, leading to lower earnings and fewer economic opportunities for women. The report estimates that child marriage is costing half of Africa’s countries $63 billion in lost earnings and human capital.

The study suggests that universal secondary education is a highly effective solution for ending child marriage. The risk of child marriage decreases by seven percent with each year of secondary school. The report argues that if all African women were able to complete their secondary education, “child marriage could be virtually eliminated, and the prevalence of early childbearing could be reduced by up to three fourths.”

The authors of the report further explore the social impact of ending child marriage in Africa. Given that child brides are more likely to be abused by their husbands, they predict that domestic violence against women would be reduced in conjunction with decreasing rates of child marriage. They also argue that women may gain more power in the household as their economic and educational status rises. Along with giving women greater agency, the elimination of child marriage would result in a lower birth rate and decline in population growth, which will ultimately improve the standard of living in Africa.

Compiled from: Quentin Wodon et al., Educating Girls and Ending Child Marriage: A Priority for Africa (November 2018); Africa Loses Billions of Dollars Due to Child Marriage, Says New World Bank Report, The World Bank (November 20, 2018).