Photo credit: Graham Crouch|Girls Not Brides
While it is not clear if child marriage causes school dropout or vice versa, it is clear that child marriage often means the end to a girl’s formal education.
When a girl gets married, she is often expected to drop out of school
Girls tend to drop out of school during the preparatory time before the marriage or shortly after.
Her new role of wife or mother often comes with the expectation that she will take care of the home, the children and the extended family.
When a girl is out of school, she becomes more vulnerable to child marriage
Many girls aren’t in education because schools are inaccessible or expensive, or because parents don’t see the value of education, either because it is of poor quality or not seen as relevant to their lives. With few alternatives, parents often see marriage as the best option for their daughter.
Girls who have no education are three times as likely to marry by 18 compared to girls with secondary or higher education.
Returning to school can be difficult for married girls
There are practical and legal obstacles on married girls’ way back to school. Girls who live far or have children to look after may not be able to resume their education. Sometimes, the stigma of pregnancy keeps girls from returning to school.
Some countries also forbid pregnant girls and young mothers from returning to school.
Education is a powerful strategy to end child marriage
Education can be one of the most powerful tools to enable girls to avoid child marriage and fulfil their potential. The longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to be married before the age of 18 and have children during her teenage years.
When girls have access to safe, quality secondary education, the benefits are widely felt. Educated girls develop skills, knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions including if, when and whom to marry.
Being in school also supports the perception that girls are still children and are therefore not of a suitable age to marry.
But education alone is not enough to end child marriage
We need to address the root causes of child marriage: gender inequality, poverty, insecurity, and the lack of economic and social opportunities for girls.
Related Sustainable Development Goals