One barrier blocking girls’ right to attend secondary is the practice of childhood marriage, prevalent in many developing countries. Many families view marrying their daughters young as a wise economic decision, especially if it is a culture that exchanges bride price. Even if a family does not receive a bride price, marrying out a daughter can mean one less mouth to feed and clothe. Some girls are married out even before their first menses.
Once married, a young girl’s responsibility becomes her domestic duty in the house and to her husband, not school. Furthermore, she will most likely fall pregnant in the first year of marriage. This pregnancy is likely to kill her -childbirth is the number one cause of death for girls 15-19 years old. If she survives childbirth, prolonged labor may leave her with an obstetric fistula, which will most likely leave her with a stillborn baby, plague her with incontinence, and leave her exiled by her community and family. If she survives childbirth and an obstetric fistula is prevented, being a young mother will significantly reduce her chance to ever earn an income of her own, cementing her dependence on her husband, even if he is abusive.
Thank you – Lisa, Meg (and Erin), Lina, Janet, Sepi, and Hang- for giving girls and their families an alternate path out of financial hardships.
If you want to learn more about childhood marriage, other barriers to girls’ education, and ways to overcome these barriers, find a screening of Girl Rising near you. SSIS will be hosting a screening this Thursday, November 21.
- The Fistula Foundation (thebeautifulleague.wordpress.com)
- U.N.: Too many births to young girls (edition.cnn.com)
- UN: For Millions of Adolescents, Pregnancy Can Be Dangerous (voanews.com)
- UN says motherhood in childhood a huge global problem (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- COMMUNITY VOICES | The truth behind the Hmong bride price (tcdailyplanet.net)
- Child marriage in whose best interests? (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)