Girls marrying at a young age — often to much older men — have limited education and few employment opportunities. Such girls can lack family support and are entirely dependent on their husbands. With limited knowledge and rights, the girls are prone to early and frequent pregnancy with significant health risks for both mother and child. The results can be larger families than the girls would like. Finally, the girls’ economic and social status remains low and declines if the husband dies.
The United Nations’ adoption of a resolution on the subject on 21 November with the broad-based, cross-regional cosponsorship of 116 countries is good news.
The resolution has been welcomed by Girls Not Brides, which is supported by Population Matters.
Countries have never before agreed on steps to address the problem. The steps to be taken include developing laws and strategies to promote and protect the rights of women to education and on matters related to their sexuality.
When all girls complete secondary school education and decide on marriage only once they reach adulthood, the world will have made an enormous stride towards universal human rights and a sustainable population size.