As the number of young married females grows, the number of children bearing children will increase, along with deaths among girls, it added.
Child marriage is a violation of fundamental human rights, according to international conventions. Early marriage often leads to early departure from school, economic dependency and difficulty finding work outside the home.
It can also perpetuate poverty and increase susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
“In those communities where the practice of child marriage remains common, families can feel it’s not worth investing at all in the education of their daughters,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s executive director.
Osotimehin, who last month launched a global campaign urging countries to invest in the education of women and young people, said uneducated girls are more than three times more likely to marry before age 18 than those with secondary education or higher.
“No country can afford the lost opportunity, waste of talent or personal exploitation that child marriage causes,” she added in an interview with Trust Law, a website covering women’s rights and good governance run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
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