A curious equation in which children are the biggest victims. Poverty, gender inequality, conflict and hunger, coupled with weather changes and natural disasters all play a role in child marriages.
Around nine million girls around the world face an increased risk of child marriage each year in conjunction with climate disasters, according to the children’s charity Save the Children.
About two-thirds of child marriages are concentrated in regions with above-average climate risks, revealed the World Report on Children 2023: Girls at the centre of the storm – Their planet, their future, their solutions.
The report predicts that the number of girls at high risk of extreme weather events and child marriage will increase.
Currently, an estimated 29.9 million girls reside in the top 10 countries identified as child marriage and climate hotspots, including Chad, Guinea, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger and South Sudan.
According to estimates, the number of girls growing up in the 10 most affected nations will increase from 29.9 million to 32.2 million in 2030 and by 2050 the number will be 39.9 million, an increase of one third.
The research highlights the urgent need to act on the climate crisis as a girls’ rights emergency, as less than 2% of the world’s national climate plans specifically mention girls and take their needs into account.
It calls for investments to adapt to climate change, with a special focus on children, especially girls, who are highly vulnerable to its effects.
South Asia, in particular Bangladesh, and in sub-Saharan Africa, the Central African Republic, Chad and Guinea, are the most affected regions. These territories are also severely affected by poverty, gender inequality, conflict and hunger. Analysis of historical data shows that a 10 per cent increase or decrease in rainfall is associated with a percentage increase in child marriage worldwide. For example, in the areas of Ethiopia most affected by drought and food shortages, child marriage rates rose by 119 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021.
A 2020 study found that in Bangladesh, girls aged 11-14 were twice as likely to marry in the years following extreme heat.
As weather events increase in severity and frequency, countries in hotspots suffer more poverty, worsening gender inequalities and other hazards. The Central Sahel region, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, faces conflict, poverty and the highest rates of child marriage in the world. According to Save the Children, girls are less likely to complete their education, face higher risks of physical and sexual violence and greater health risks during pregnancy and childbirth. PL
(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay