Guidance Counseling Project Topics

Effect of Early Marriage on the Socio-economic and Educational Development of a Girl-child in Nigeria

Effect of Early Marriage on the Socio-economic and Educational Development of a Girl-child in Nigeria

Effect of Early Marriage on the Socio-economic and Educational Development of a Girl-child in Nigeria


Objectives of the Study

Therefore, the specific objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. To identify the reasons behind early marriage perpetuation in Nigeria using Okene local government as a paradigm.
  2. To identify how it affect girls’ wellbeing and constitute a violation of their human rights in Okene local government area.
  3. To investigate the consequences and socio-economic and education developmental effects of early marriage in Okene local government area.
  4. To recommend ways of ameliorating the socio-economic and education developmental effects of early marriage in Okene local government area.



Literature Review

For better understanding, it should be attempted to define early marriage in the literature review. It should also be examined how early marriage is contested in Africa, how it affects socioeconomic development and educational attainment, and what the main problems are with early marriage (consequences).

Concept of Early Marriage

The phrase “early marriage” is used to describe both legal marriages and illicit relationships in which a female cohabitates with a man before turning 18 years old (UNICEF 2005; forum on marriage and the rights of women and girls 2001). Early marriage, or child marriage, is described by UNIFPA (2006) as “any marriage performed below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically, and psychologically able to assume the duties of marriage and childbearing.” Contrarily, child marriage involves one or both partners being children, may occur with or without formal registration, and is governed by civil, religious, or customary rules. In a 1989 research by the World Health Organization, it was discovered that 35% of 15-year-old females in Napal and 25% of 14-year-old girls in Bangla were married. According to the same study, only 16% of Latin American women under the age of 18 were married, compared to 44% of African women and 24% of Southeast Asian women (WHO, 1989). The primary cause of early marriage in several parts of the world is believed to be parental pressure on young females to get married (TAG1, 1995: Cook, 1994). Half of all Nigerian women were married by the time they were 17 years old, according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS, 1990) but the average age at first marriage varied by area.

According to Wallchant (1990), women in Africa frequently wed at a very young age—as young as 12 or 13 in some places—and for a variety of reasons. Conversely, rural women who married before the age of 18 appear to have fewer children than their urban counterparts, whereas the opposite is true for marriages that occurred at other ages (Bababola, 1992).

Against Women: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW), The most comprehensive international declaration of women’s rights said that a kid should never be legally wed or be betrothed. The committee that oversees this convention also recommended that the minimum age for marriage for both sexes be 18 years old, or the age at which “they have reached full maturity and capacity to act,” in General Recommendation 21 (Article 16(2)). The majority of early marriages are arranged, dependent on parental approval, and frequently fall short of protecting the interests of the girl child. Early unions frequently involve aspects of coercion (Otoo-oyortey and (Pobi 2003).

There have been various discussions over early marriage because there is no comprehensive definition of it in international conventions. According to some academics and activists, the focus should be on eradicating the negative impacts of early marriage rather than trying to establish a universal age at which girls and boys should not be married (women’s human rights resources).

A universal marriage age, for instance, has been criticized by certain observers, in part because different countries have varied conceptions of what it means to be a child as well as diverse social and cultural realities. According to Bunting (1999), governments should be permitted to lower the legal age of marriage below 18, but that the onus is on them to demonstrate that this lower age does not result in any discrimination or adverse consequences for women.





This section entails the description of the procedure employed in carrying out this research work with respect to the following: design of the study, area of the study, population of the study, sample and sampling technique, instrumentation for data collection, data gathering instrument and method of data analysis. 

Design of the Study

The design of the study was a survey research method. According to Nwogu (1991) survey research is one in which a group of people or items are considered to be representative of the entire population.

Area of the Study

Since this study has its focus on the socio-economic and education developmental effects of early marriage in Nigeria, the researcher found it worthy to carryout the research in Okene local government council. Okene is one of the local governments in the country, created by the then former military head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo in the year 1976. It has its capital at Umulokpa.



Data Presentation

This chapter embodies the result of the study. It has t do with the presentation, analysis and interpretation of data collected by the researcher.

However, the data collected were analyzed in percentage and presented in a tabular form before comment on them is made.




This study has raised some pertinent issues which our various systems of government and individuals must address adequately in order to cope or curtail the socio-economic and education developmental effects of early marriage on girls’ child and the society as whole. For instance, it has touched on the agonizing problems which limit development and wellbeing of our girls in Nigeria using Kogi state as study area.

Thus, numerous severe consequences result from the practice of early marriage was also identified. Early marriage is intrinsically linked to low levels of education, high levels of violence and abuse, social isolation, severe health risks and harmful power dynamics and results in increased gender inequality and vulnerability to poverty for girls, young women, families and the society as a whole. This practice also threatens the international development effort to fight against poverty and related challenges in developing countries.


 The discussion in this study so far has revealed some key facts about early marriage and its socio-economic and education developmental effects in the society especially in Nigeria. Thus, below are the stated recommendations from the researcher:

  • Promoting education of girls: educating girls seems to be the ideal solution since, if sufficiently prolonged; it helps to delay age of marriage, and confers other benefits as well. However, sending children to school costs money and where money is scarce, it is unlikely to be spent on girls. In addition, due attention ought to be paid to the provisions of section 18(1) of the 1999 constitution, Article 28 of the CRC, and article 11 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, all of which guarantee every child a right to free and compulsory basic education.
  • Government should establish skill acquisition centres in case where the girls cannot benefit from formal education; they must be trained in different skills, according to their choice and the state of the market.


This paper has shown that child marriage is an accepted cultural practice in many countries especially in developing countries with more prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa. It is still widely sanctioned, even though it is a violation of the human rights of young girls due to various motives. Early marriage can violate the rights of girls and boys, both in this generation and the next but this is an issue that impacts upon girls in far larger numbers and with more intensity. More emphasis has been given to girls as the experience for boys is, less likely to be exploitative or physically harmful as it is for girls. The imposition of a marriage partner on children or adolescents who are in no way ready for married life, and whose marriage will deprive them of freedom, opportunity for personal development, and other rights including health and well-being, education, and participation in civic life, nullifies the meaning of the convention on the rights of the child’s core protections for those concerned.


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