Early Childhood marriages among young girls

Early marriage is a widespread problem in Uganda. UNICEF estimates that 46 percent of women aged 20-24 years old were married before they were 18. That is much higher than the African average of 34 percent. Discrimination against girls is a cross-cutting issue. It affects women and girls' ability to contribute to, and benefit from, sustainable development across areas such as education, health, and livelihoods. A growing body of evidence has linked early marriage with negative health, education, and economic outcomes. Recently published global reviews have documented that young women who marry early are more likely than their peers to experience early school departure, lower earning capacity, earlier and more frequent childbearing, complications in pregnancy, higher maternal mortality, increased risk of HIV infection, and higher infant mortality (Singh and Samara, 1996; UNICEF, 2001; Mukuria et al., 2005; UNICEF, 2005; ICRW, 2007). From a human rights perspective, many women who marry before age 18 do not have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether and when to marry and, in many cases, this single event shapes their entire adult lives. While the work done by different organizations to end child marriage is commendable, early marriage continues to be widespread and is still socially accepted in many cultures in Uganda. According to International Center for Research on Women (ICRW, 2007), Uganda ranks the 9th with 54.1% of girls marrying before the age of 18. It is becoming increasingly clear that more effort needs to be made in terms of putting into action the recommendations emerging from these reports.