The right to ‘free and full’ consent to marriage is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UNICEF has reported extensively on how child marriage is a harmful and exploitative tradition. In Mozambique, some 60 percent of girls with no education are married by 18, compared to 10 percent of girls with secondary schooling and less than 1 percent of girls with higher education.
Education deters child marriage. The International Center for Research on Women reports that child marriage is associated with lower levels of schooling for girls in every region of the world. Girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children.
Early marriage prevents education in critical areas of reading and writing, but also in vocational training, which can greatly enhance opportunities for women. It works both ways: getting girls educated prevents child marriage, preventing child marriage means we have to work towards bettering educational opportunities for girls.