The United Nations Children’s Fund has announced that Nigeria will have the highest number of child brides by year 2050 in its latest report.
Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.
According to the UNICEF in the report released in August, more than half of adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 who are currently married have husbands that are 10 years older than they are.
The report said in part, “Furthermore, girls are often married to considerably older men. In Mauritania and Nigeria, more than half of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19, who are currently married, have husbands who are 10 or more years older than they are.
“In Africa, Nigeria is expected to have the largest absolute number of child brides. The country has seen a decline in child marriage of about one per cent per year over the past three decades. At this pace, the total number of child brides is expected to double by 2050.”
The UN’s children agency added that sub-Saharan Africa would have the largest number and global share of child brides in the next 36 years.
“In contrast to global trends, some countries have experienced stagnation or even increasing levels of child marriage. In Burkina Faso, prevalence has remained constant at around 50 per cent for the past three decades.
“If this persists, the number of child brides will increase substantially in the coming years as the population expands. Sub-Saharan Africa will have the largest number and global share of child brides by 2050,” it said.
Among the 700 million women alive today married before their 18th birthday. More than one in three (about 250 million) entered into union before age 15. Boys are also married as children, but girls are disproportionately affected.
In Niger, for instance, 77 per cent of women aged between 20 and 49 were married before age 18, in contrast to five per cent of men in the same age group. Even in countries where child marriage is less common, the same gender differences are found.
According to the report, child marriage is a manifestation of gender inequality, reflecting social norms that perpetuate discrimination against girls.