600 million girls will join the workforce by 2028. If girls are educated and empowered, they will find skilled workers to support themselves and their families. But too often, girls are seen as an economic burden. They are taken out of school early, married off and trapped by household responsibilities. Girls who stay in school have the chance to learn, work and support themselves in the future.
Too many schools lack safe and clean toilets for girls. Without running water, privacy or sanitary products, girls’ lives are put on hold during their period, as they have little choice but to stay at home. They can miss as many as 1 in 5 school days as a result – or drop out completely.
2. War and conflict
War and conflict exacerbate many of the drivers of child marriage. Conflict puts women and girls at increased risk of violence. Child marriage is seen as a way to protect girls from sexual violence in an unsafe environment.
3. Sexual violence
For many girls, the journey to school is not only long and tiring but dangerous. Girls who walk for hours through remote areas are often at risk of sexual violence. This stops many girls from going to school. When girls’ education is cut short, they cannot hope to join the skilled workforce.
4. Social norms
When money is scarce, many families choose to educate sons rather than daughters. They may see educating boys as investing in future wage earners. Daughters are often seen as future mothers and homemakers, unlikely to ever hold jobs. In cultures where brides move into their husband’s home, many families see little benefit in educating a girl who will join a different family.
5. Child marriage
While it is not clear if child marriage causes school dropout or vice versa, it is clear that child marriage often means the end to a girl’s formal education. Girls tend to drop out of school during the preparatory time before the marriage or shortly after. Her new role of wife or mother often comes with the expectation that she will take care of the home, the children and the extended family.