WASHINGTON-(MaraviPost)-The developing nations including Malawi, is projected to lose trillions of dollars by the year 2030 on account of child marriages, The Maravi Post has learnt.
This is in contrast to the end child marriage campaign being advocated by governments and civil societies.
In the World Bank and the International Center for Research for Women (ICRW) report titled, “Economic Impacts of Child Marriage,” released on Tuesday and made available to The Maravi Post, highlights the estimated benefits that would ensue if women had fewer children and later in life, and increase women’s expected earnings and household welfare.
According to the report, in the past 30 years, the prevalence of child marriage, or union before the age of 18, has decreased in many countries, but it still remains far too high.
The Bank discloses that in a set of 25 countries for which detailed analysis was conducted, at least one in three women marry before the age of 18; and one in five women have their first child before the age of 18.
Across the countries considered in the report, three in four early childbirths (children born to a mother younger than 18) are attributed to child marriages.
The report estimates that a girl marrying at 13 will have on average 26 percent more children over her lifetime than if she had married at 18 or later.
This means that ending child marriage would reduce the total fertility rates by 11 percent on average in those countries, leading to substantial reductions in population growth over time.
In Niger, for instance, the country with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, the population by 2030 could be five percent smaller, if child marriage and early childbirths, were eliminated.
The analysis suggests that by 2030, gains in annual welfare from lower population growth, could reach more than $500 billion annually.
In Uganda, the benefit from reduced fertility would be equivalent to $2.4 billion, while in Nepal this would be almost $1 billion.
The report confirms that keeping girls in school, is one of the best ways to avoid child marriage.
Each year of a secondary education, reduces the likelihood of marrying as a child before the age of 18 by five percentage points or more.
The World Bank’s Project Director and co-author of the report, Quentin Wodon, observes that child brides are often robbed of their rights to safety and security, to health and education, and to make their own life choices and decisions.
“Child marriage not only puts a stop to girls’ hopes and dreams. It also hampers efforts to end poverty and achieve economic growth and equity. Ending this practice is not only the morally right thing to do, but also the economically smart thing to do,” adds Wodon.
Echoing on the same, Suzanne Petroni, ICRW’s Project Director and co-author of the report, says that very day more than 41,000 girls marry before the age of 18.
She adds that poverty, gender inequality, poor access to quality education and to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, and a lack of decent employment opportunities, help perpetuate child marriages and early childbirths.
“Ending child marriage would also reduce rates of under-five mortality and delayed physical development due to lack of appropriate nutrition (stunting). Globally, the estimated benefits of lower under-five mortality and malnutrition, could reach more than $90 billion annually by 2030.
“Another important benefit from ending child marriages, would be an increase in women’s expected earnings in the labor market. Due in large part to the impact of child marriage on education, women who marry as children have, on average, earnings that are nine percent lower than if they had married later. In Nigeria, this equals to $7.6 billion annually in lost earnings and productivity,” said Petroni.
The Economic Impacts of Child Marriage project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and the Global Partnership for Education.