COVID-19: A threat to progress against child marriage
The COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly affecting the everyday lives of girls: their physical and mental health, their education, and the economic circumstances of their families and communities. Changes like these increase the likelihood of child marriage, and over the next decade, up to 10 million more girls will be at risk of becoming child brides as a result of the pandemic.
The risk of child marriage increases through various pathways, including economic shocks, school closures and interruptions in services. It is well known, for example, that economic insecurity can lead to child marriage as a way to relieve financial pressure on a family. The evidence is also clear that education is a protective factor against child marriage. Thus, school closures such as those triggered by COVID-19 may, in effect, push girls towards marriage since school is no longer an option. Additionally, the disruption of ‘non-essential’ services including reproductive health services have a direct impact on teenage pregnancy and subsequently on marriage.