The 2018 World Bank Group Human Capital Index revealed that countries in Sub-Saharan Africa score the lowest in skills, health, knowledge and resilience of all the world’s regions. This reflects challenges such as high mortality and stunting rates, as well as inadequate student learning outcomes.
Aiming to help Sub-Saharan countries to tackle these issues, the World Bank Africa Region launched its Human Capital Plan with ambitious targets, including a reduction in child mortality to save four million lives, averting stunting among 11 million children, and increasing learning outcomes for girls and boys in school by 20%.
Empowering women to prevent early marriage and pregnancy for adolescent girls is also an objective of the plan. According to Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa, “the adolescent fertility rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is 102 births per 1,000 girls—three times as high as in South Asia. This not only damaging for girls and their children, but it also hurts economic growth.”
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world. Nearly four out of 10 young women in this region were married before the age of 18. These young girls are having their childhoods cut short, but this goes far beyond a moral issue. This situation has a negative impact on development. They are also more likely to have children at a young age, which affects their health, and they are much more likely to drop out of school and complete fewer years of education than expected. This will curb their capacity to enter the job market with the adequate skills, and therefore reducing their potential for higher income.
Estimates for 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa say that child marriage is costing these countries $63 billion in lost earnings and human capital wealth. Addressing the issue of child marriage is therefore a crucial development challenge for all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
So, we want to hear from you! Share your views by answering the following question: “What will it take to end child marriage in your country?”