UN: Child Marriages Decline But Will Take 300 Years to Eradicate
A new UNICEF report shows the percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married in their childhood fell from 23% to 19% in the past decade, though 12M girls each year across the world are still married before the age of 18.
- A new UNICEF report shows the percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married in their childhood fell from 23% to 19% in the past decade, though 12M girls each year across the world are still married before the age of 18.1
- The lead author of the report, Claudia Cappa, said that the rate of decline is not "fast enough to achieve the goal of eliminating child marriage by 2030," adding that "we’ll need around 300 more years to eliminate child marriage completely."2
- The rate of such marriages in 1997 was 25% before declining to 23% in 2012 and 19% in 2019. At this rate, 9M girls will be married off in 2030.3
- The likelihood of a girl marrying in childhood has also dropped from 46% to 26% in the past decade, with South Asia accounting for 78% of marriages averted, largely driven by India. Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan also saw "notable declines."4
- Other countries that have seen significant progress include Ethiopia and Rwanda, with Cappa citing "a reduction in poverty...access to secondary education for girls, and employment opportunities for women" as reasons.1
- Despite some positive declines, other nations — mostly in Latin America and Central and West Africa — have seen slowed progress due to crises such as armed conflicts, climate-change-related disasters, and the economic and social changes caused by COVID.5
Sources: 1NPR Online News, 2Guardian, 3France 24, 4Al Jazeera, and 5OPB.
- Narrative A, as provided by WUSF Public Media. Ending child marriages isn't only good for the young girls forced into such arrangements but also for society as a whole. Girls are more likely to have complicated pregnancies, get divorced, and remain impoverished if married before 18, leading to a repetition of the cycle for future generations. If governments want to produce thriving economies, helping girls complete their secondary education before starting a family will go a long way in achieving that goal.
- Narrative B, as provided by IPI Global Observatory. The idea of "human rights" was born out of the UN's quickly-formed Declaration of Human Rights following World War Two. While many people around the world may agree on certain rights, they don't actually exist naturally but rather come from negotiated agreements between governments. Though cultural aspects like forced child marriages are rightfully abhorrent in the minds of both Western and non-Western peoples, that doesn't mean Western institutions should establish a hegemonic set of rules for the world to follow.