In Nigeria, 39% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 16% are married before they turn 15.
The prevalence of child marriage varies widely from one region to another, with figures as high as 76% in the North West region.
Importantly, education is a strong indicator of whether a girl will marry as a child. 82% of women aged 20-24 with no education were married by the age of 18, as opposed to 13% of women who have at least finished secondary education.
The Child Rights Act of 2003 sets the national legal minimum age of marriage at 18. To be effective, however, state assemblies must take necessary measures to implement the Act, and to date, only 23 of Nigeria’s 36 states have taken concrete steps to execute the minimum age of marriage.
While data shows a 9% decline in the prevalence of child marriage since 2003, action is needed to prevent thousands of girls from being married in the coming years. If present trends continue, UNFPA estimates that 4,615,000 of girls will be married as children by 2030.
Sources: UNFPA, Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage, 2012 ; UNICEF, State of the World’s Children: Children with Disabilities, 2013.
*Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2013)