End Child Marriage and Support Education for Girls


Target: Faith Pansy Tlakula, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Goal: End the child marriage epidemic and support equal education for girls

One-third of the world’s girls are married before the age of 18. That number increases dramatically for girls and young women born into poverty, especially rampant in rural areas of Africa. The country has one of the most prevalent child marriage epidemics, with over 70 percent of the female population 18 and under married off to suitors as young as 10 years old.

According to Human Rights Watch, child marriage in Africa is proving to be more than an epidemic, it is also linked to vast inequalities in education and, in turn, could also be linked to economic hardship. Many girls and young women in areas like South Sudan, Malawi, and Tanzania dream of going to school, obtaining an education and going to university. These dreams are thwarted when their teenaged years are stolen from them and they are forced into marriages with men as old as 40. These girls also endure constant sexual and physical violence at the hands of their controlling spouses, perpetuating an ongoing cycle of emotional, psychological and physical abuse.

Child marriage continues to be one of the main barriers in the fight for equal education. A study conducted by the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative found that if child marriages and early pregnancies could be dramatically decreased, it could cut the gender gap in education by 50 percent. Few girls return to school after marriage because they lack money and child care resources. Other girls have no access to flexible educational programs, like adult classes or even night classes, to continue their education. What’s more is that some girls are forbidden to attend schools because their husbands or in-laws won’t allow it.

In the most high risk areas, like Tanzania and Malawi, government officials have actively blocked girls’ access to education with ridiculous regulations. If a student becomes pregnant or married, she is forced to conclude her education with little to no help in seeking readmission. It should be a universal fact that an education is one of the few things that stops the cycle of poverty and allows girls and young women to lead fulfilling, independent and worthwhile lives.

Sign the petition to support equal education and end the child marriage epidemic in Africa.


Dear Faith Pansy Tlakula,

Child marriage in Africa has reached the point of a full-blown epidemic. More than 70 percent of the female population, aged 18 and under, are forced into marriages at ages as young as 10. Poverty is a huge factor in the perpetuation of this epidemic, but no girl should be forced to give up her educational dreams in pursuit of financial gain for her impoverished family. Education is one of the few things that’s essential to ending the cycle of poverty. When forced into a loveless marriage for extravagant dowries, girls not only lose their innocent identities and self-worth, but they also stunt their educational growth.

The African governments should be doing more to address this issue and raise awareness of the harmful emotional, physical and mental effects of child marriage on these girls and young women. The education gap between genders is preposterous, and there are even some governments actively preventing girls from obtaining an education. This must end now.

I urge you to recognize this issue and take the necessary legal steps to abolish this epidemic. Girls deserve to fulfill their educational goals and dreams, and reach their full potential. Free, compulsory education shouldn’t be a privilege — it is a right.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Ernst Vikne via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Stan Benton says:

    While I oppose all forms of forced marriage, I also believe that an arbitrary age of 18 is ridiculous, apparently based on somebody’s idea of their religion telling them to do this. Marriage at age 12 was even common in the U.S. up until the last century. I believe that puberty should be the criteria, not age. But education is vitally important, including sex education before puberty, and expanded education opportunities for married adults, especially women as they are so badly discriminated against in much of the world.

  2. There is no doubt that this atrocity stems from pedophilia,No mater what any of these sic individuals want to call it! A foot is a foot no mater what. This is a sin and a violation of a parents duty to protect their child.These places that allow such barbaric conduct against innocent young children, that in no way shape or form can possibly protect themselves from the nasty dirty ol men that lust after their young bodies. Maybe there should be an under ground railroad for these innocent victims, just like the one the had for the slaves. Until this disgusting lust can be destroyed forever along with the sickness of men and women that allow it.Women if you are reading this and you have this fowl atrocity going on, don’t go along with this and betray your child, just because that sic thing you are married to wants this. It is time for the women to rebel against those that will sell,enslave, beat,rape,torture,humiliate,and murder you.

  3. Don Saito says:

    I disagree, though I understand your rationale. Perhaps in our pre-history, before civilization, mating at puberty was natural and necessary to the survival of the species. However, we are long past those days. We now have societies, culture, moral codes – in other words, civilization. We no longer need to worry about our species survival – quite the opposite. In fact, we need to worry about whether our sheer numbers will destroy the environment. So, allowing mating at puberty would be detrimental to the female members of our various societies by turning them into baby-makers before they had achieved the maturity to credibly make that decision for themselves.

    • Well said, Don Saito!

    • Dear Don,

      “Mating”… This word is used as if we were animals. Yes, we are mammals, but not animals. We do not mate. We reproduce. Referring to us and yourself, as if we were animals, is dehumanizing and does not help the epidemic. If we are to begin to help, we, at the very least, should speak in a manner that is a little more humane and less scientific. Although, some of your information or points and conclusion are valid.

  4. Sometimes I think that I am living in the Dark Ages,and I cannot believe the number of countries,often where the Islamic religion rules,that have not evolved to a state where women’s rights are acknowledged.However,don’t forget that Mohammed married an eight year old girl??!!Isn’t it time this vile act was renounced and Muslims moved on to more decent and civilised behaviour??!

    • Alex, in the time of Muhammad’s reign, women had virtually no prospects. They could not have jobs, and a woman without a husband or a father may as well have been dead. Muhammad did not have children with all of his wives; he married most of them because they had become widows, or in this child’s case, fatherless. The idea of fornication with a child is one that Islam is vehemently against. These atrocities are not a part of Islam, but rather a prejudiced misogynistic culture intent on bastardizing the Qur’an. The Qur’an clearly states that whilst inherently different, men and women are equal and should have equal opportunities in all aspects of life, and banning girl’s education is directly against that.

  5. 10 years old??? Some people are very SICK !!!!!

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