Save the Children calls on leaders to end child marriage
Kingsley Mba, October 14, 2018
With the theme, "With Her: A Skilled Girl Force", this year's International Day of the Girl child, has been celebrated around the world with renewed efforts and committments to bring together children, families, communities, partners and stakeholders to draw attention and investments for girls to attain knowledge and skills that are necessary to thrive.
Save The Children, a leading child rights advocacy organisation committed to creating lasting changes for children in Nigeria in a press release made a case for increased advocacy and building strong support system across boards for the girl child to achieve her potentials and live in safe environment.
In commemorating this year's event, the organisation pointed out the need to work in synergy with government agencies, communities and schools to create a conducive and safe environment for the girl child to arrest the current situation of having more out-of-school girls.
In a recent analysis conducted by Save The Children, 50 million child marriages could be prevented by 2030 if all girls around the world finished secondary school.
Education has been identified as a critical factor in reducing child marriage.
Save the Children also decried the increasing rate of child marriage which it says is the leading reason for school drop-out in low-income countries. Being out-of-school exposes them to increased risk factors for child marriage, the statement added.
In addressing the issues of out-of-school children, the organisation highlights the impacts of universal basic eduction which will ensure girls are able to complete secondary education and also urge the world to prioritise girls access to health and protection programmes to end child marriage in addition to providing basic foundations for girls to learn, to be well nourished, access to hygiene and bathroom facilities among other things.
While an estimated 25 million child marriages are said to have been prevented over the past decade, it still fall short of UN goal of ending the practice by 2030.
In a recent study by Save The Children in Niger State, it was discovered that girls who do not attend school are more at risk of child marriage, early pregnancy and being malnourished. Niger State happens to have the highest number of child marriage in the world.
While education has been recommended as a critical factor to limit the rate of child marriage, the CEO of Save The Children, Helle Thorning-Schmidt stated that education "is a critical piece of puzzle in ending the abusive practice".
Poverty and gender discrimination are another risk factors as many families in such situation believe their daughters are better married off, Thorning-Schmidt added.
"When girls get married it doesn't just violate her right once- the consequences last a lifetime. She is more likely to suffer abuse, more likely to become a mother before she is emotionally and physically ready, and her children are more likely to die before their fifth birthday".
She noted that eduction and empowerment programmes are the most reliable and effective ways to end child marriage.
She therefore called on the governmentprioritise tackling child marriage and also for more collaborations in education, health, nutrition, protection, economic and justice sectors to improve the lives of many disadvantaged girls. Also for more investment to on improving the quality as well as access to education for the girl child at various level