When young girls enter child marriages and are forced to marry before the age of 18, all aspects of their lives are affected, from their health to their education.

Child brides who stop attending school are more likely to experience early pregnancy, malnourishment, domestic violence, and pregnancy complications. It is also more difficult for girls who enter child marriages to escape poverty.

While child marriage previously decreased worldwide, this form of gender-based violence has recently increased due to COVID-19, and the pandemic is expected to reverse 25 years of progress made to stop it. As families face economic hardship, they are increasingly turning to child marriage to alleviate themselves of one more mouth to feed. An estimated 10 million additional girls are at risk.

Here’s a list of five steps we can take to prevent child marriage within our lifetime to continue to promote gender equality.

  1. Challenge gender norms that perpetuate the idea that girls are inferior to boys.
  2. Ensure all girls have access to quality education.
  3. Improve access to sexual and reproductive health. 
  4. Provide support for the development of adolescent girls.
  5. Support legal systems to protect young girls’ rights.

Read the full article about child marriage by Leah Rodriguez at Global Citizen.