Child marriage has long been an issue in South Asia and sub-saharan Africa. In particular, 43% of the girls in Nigeria are married before they reach the age of 18. At the current rate, Nigeria is expected to have the largest number of child brides in Africa by 2050.
One of the main reasons for the continued practice of child marriage in certain regions is the perceived lack of alternatives for females. Early marriage is often seen as a way for a family to alleviate its financial burden, as a girl's survival and well-being becomes the responsibility of her new husband once she is married. Furthermore, due to traditional gender roles, cultural values, and even laws, women are barred from many work opportunities. Marriage becomes one of the few viable options for girls to have a financially stable future.
One way to reduce child marriage is to increase the number of job opportunities for women. This requires improved education, and while the focus has largely been on education for young girls, adult education is a highly beneficial option for women. When vocational and technical training is made available for women of all ages, girls see more options that could lead to a self-sufficient future, and are less likely to feel obligated to marry young. A study in Bangladesh has found that the child marriage rate dropped 23% when girls were given training in job skills.
Adult education is far preferable to little or no education at all. While various factors contribute to child marriage, making adult education available to women can play a critical role in reducing child marriage.
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