Girls affected by conflict are 20 per cent more likely to be married than those living in peaceful areas, said a new analysis from Save the Children released on the 10th anniversary of International Day of the Girl.
In the analysis Global Girlhood Report: Girls on the frontline, the organisation said that girls living in East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Asia face the highest risk of child marriage linked to conflict. “West and Central Africa – a region affected by conflict and climate emergencies, which lead to poverty and food shortages – has the highest rates of child marriage in the world,” the report said.
- Nearly 90 million girls – or 1 in 5 globally – are living in a conflict zone, with devastating impacts on their health, well-being and future opportunities.
- In most regions, girls growing up in the poorest households were four times more likely to marry than girls from the richest households. Increasing poverty could now be putting more girls at risk.
- Despite laws against child marriage in Nigeria, the country is home to one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, the report mentioned.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the highest rates of child marriage in the world but they were slowly falling.
- South Asia has led the world in reducing child marriage
- East Asia and the Pacific has made progress among the richest girls but the poorest girls were being left behind.
- Latin America and the Caribbean has shown no sign of progress or reducing inequalities in the last decade.
- Middle East and North Africa was making progress toward reducing child marriage but has now slowed.
- Eastern Europe has lower rates of child marriage compared to other regions, but progress has been flattening.
HOW FAR SINCE FIRST INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL?
Despite promises by world leaders, girls stand at the frontline of the world’s most pressing issues, and child marriage continues, all over the world. Before COVID-19, global estimates of the rate of child marriage was decreasing but the world was still a long way off meeting the Sustainable Development Goal deadline to end child marriage by 2030.2 The number of girls marrying each year was estimated to be around 12 million and 2 million of those girls were married before their 15th birthday.
While an estimated 25 million child marriages globally were prevented between 2008 and 2018, the world was a long way off track to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal deadline to end child marriage by 2030. The COVID crisis and its ongoing impacts on gender inequality is projected to push 10 million more girls into marriage by 2030, the first jump in global rates in more than two decades, the analysis says.
The pandemic, combined with the worsening climate emergency, new and ongoing conflicts and the worst global food crisis in decades, now further threaten progress to end child marriage, it added. .
Save the Children International CEO Inger Ashing said:
“Conflict has a devastating impact on families, forcing them to flee their homes, schools and jobs to move to temporary camps, which are often cramped, with few services, few options to earn money and next to no protection from violence. While children bear the brunt of any war, we know girls are targeted with brutal acts violence because of their gender – in every conflict.
“Humanitarian crises – be they climate disasters, pandemics or the ongoing global food crisis – lead to many of the same risks that drive child marriage, like increased poverty and a stripping away of protective systems that should be in place to keep girls safe from violence.
“With so many girls facing overlapping crises, this anniversary should be a wakeup call to governments to prioritise girls and make sure they’re protected from child marriage and all the devastating impacts it has on their lives. That has to start by giving girls a say in decisions that affect them.”
- Increase funding and efforts to address gender-based violence against girls, including funding for child protection in humanitarian crises.
- Invest in scaling up initiatives to end child marriage that rely on evidence and make them available to more girls in more places.
- Support and fund girls to define solutions to the challenges they face by strengthening girl-led movements.
- Develop and fully-fund national action plans to end child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence and violence against children.
- Develop research to better understand how to prevent the “four C’s” (COVID, conflict, climate change and the rising cost of living) from reversing progress to end child marriage.
- Ensure they uphold their promises to girls made in their own laws and global agreements like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, SDGs and Generation Equality Global Acceleration Plan
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL
Ten years ago, governments and people working for gender equality and girls’ rights around the world agreed to dedicate one day every year to celebrate girls’ achievements and bring attention to the challenges they face. This led to the creation of International Day of the Girl, which has been celebrated around the world every 11th of October since 2012.