Educating Girls and Ending Child marriage : A Priority for Africa
(English) 2018/11/19 :: 70 pages
World Bank Group
Despite progress over the last two decades, girls still have on average lower levels of educational attainment than boys in many African countries, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels. Girls dropping out of school are more likely to marry or have children early, before they may be physically and emotionally ready to become wives and mothers. This may affect their own health. It may also affect that of their children since children of mothers younger than 18 face higher risks of dying by age five and being malnourished. They may also do poorly in school. Other risks for girls and women associated with a lack of education as well as child marriage include intimate partner violence and a lack of decision-making ability in the household. Through lower expected earnings in adulthood and higher fertility over their lifetime, a lack of education for girls as well as child marriage lead to higher rates of poverty for households. This is due to both losses in incomes and higher basic needs from larger household sizes. Low educational attainment for girls may also weaken solidarity in communities and reduce women’s participation in society. Lack of education is associated with a lower proclivity to altruistic behaviors, and it curtails women’s voice and agency in the household, at work and in institutions. This report documents the negative impacts of low educational attainment for girls, child marriage, and early childbearing for girls in Africa and some of their associated economic costs. The message is clear: educating girls is not only the right thing to do. It also makes economic and strategic sense for countries to fulfill their development potential.
Africa Loses Billions of Dollars Due to Child Marriage, Says New World Bank Report
ACCRA, Ghana, November 20, 2018—Child marriage will cost African countries tens of billions of dollars in lost earnings and human capital, says a new World Bank report launched ahead of the African Union Commission’s second African Girls Summit on Ending Child Marriage taking place in Ghana this week.
According to Educating Girls and Ending Child Marriage: A Priority for Africa report, more than three million (or one third of) girls in Sub-Saharan Africa marry before their 18th birthday each year. Today, the region has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world. Child brides are much more likely to drop out of school and complete fewer years of education than their peers who marry later. They are also more likely to have children at a young age, which affects their health as well as the education and health of their children.
While many African countries have achieved gender parity in primary education, the report notes that girls lag behind boys at the secondary level. In Sub-Saharan Africa, seven out of 10 girls complete primary education, but only four out of 10 complete lower secondary school.
On average, women who have a secondary education are more likely to work and they earn twice as much as those with no education. Estimates for 12 countries—which account for half of the African continent’s population—suggest that through its impact on girls’ education, child marriage is costing these countries $63 billion in lost earnings and human capital wealth.
“Primary education for girls is simply not sufficient. Girls reap the biggest benefits of education when they are able to complete secondary school, but we know that girls very often don’t stay in school if they marry early,” said Quentin Wodon, Lead Economist at the World Bank and principal author of the report.
Child marriage also leads to high fertility rates and population growth, the report notes. If child marriage were ended today, lower population growth would lead to higher standards of living, especially for the poorest.
The report confirms that keeping girls in school is one of the best ways to avoid child marriage. Each year of secondary education reduces the likelihood of marrying as a child before the age of 18 by five percentage points or more.
The report also documents the impact of child marriage and girls’ education on more than three dozen other development outcomes. For example, child marriage leads to higher risk of intimate partner violence, and lower decision-making in the household. Child marriage also affects the well-being of the children of young mothers, including higher risks of mortality and stunting (malnutrition) for children below the age of five.
Educating girls and promoting gender equality is part of a holistic effort at the World Bank, which includes financing and analytical work to keep girls in school, prevent child marriage, improve access to reproductive health services, and strengthen skills and job opportunities for adolescent girls and young women.
The report was published with support from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Global Partnership for Education.