Early Marriage is one of the global problems that undermine personal development and the rights of women gravely. It is a common practice among developing countries such as Ethiopia. Child marriage is illegal in Ethiopia and the government announced in 2014 that it would eliminate the practice by 2025 through enhanced coordination, budget allocation, accountability mechanism and availability of data. But factors such as poverty, a lack of education and economic opportunities, and social customs that limit the rights of women and girls are challenges the government faces.
According to UNICEF, Ethiopia has the 15th highest rate of child marriage in the world and the fifth highest number of child brides. A recent world bank report shows that child marriage can possibly harm the country’s economy. The report states that Ethiopia’s economy could potentially lose billions of dollars annually. Child brides are much more likely to drop out of school and complete fewer years of education than their peers who marry later. This affects, in turn, the education of their children.
Yet, there have been some improvements, with community organizations working to change attitudes about early marriage and create an environment where girls can thrive. Aid agencies are spread across Ethiopia in a bid to reduce the rate of child marriage. Over the past decade, the rate dropped from 60 percent to 40 percent. Still, the number is very high.
In Ethiopia, two in every five girls is married before the age of 18, a practice that is prevalent across all the regions. According to the Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey (EDHS) 2011, 41 percent of girls between the ages of 20 to 24 are married by age 18. The report also shows that 63 percent of girls between the ages of 25-49 are married.