Child marriage is a violation of human rights that limits girls in reaching their full potential. This harmful practice is closely associated with deprivations in education, health, access to resources and empowerment. Chief among these deprivations is the exit from schooling that typically accompanies the marriage of a child. In many countries, marriage and schooling are viewed as incompatible, and decisions about removing a girl from school and marrying her off at a young age are often made at the same time. These decisions are influenced by the perceived value of education and the availability of employment opportunities for educated girls. Better quality and higher education may make the returns on investment in girls more readily apparent and justifiable to both parents and society. Access to quality education and decent work are also critical to breaking the cycle of poverty and the intergenerational transmission of child marriage, since girls from more educated and wealthier households are less likely to marry in childhood. As the world rallies to accelerate progress against child marriage, understanding what drives change in how people think about the practice – and act – is key to its elimination.
This publication uses data to illustrate how child marriage and schooling are related, showing the likelihood of child marriage among populations with different levels of education, as well as the educational status of girls who are child brides today.