The Executive Director of First Future Leadership, Adeola Awogbemi, has said that child marriage not only cost Nigeria about $7.6 billion yearly in terms of productivity but also put a burden on the healthcare system,
The expert, in a keynote address at an event, yesterday, organised by Centre for Women’s Health and Information (CEWHIN) with support from RiseUp Programme of the Public Health Institute, USA, to end child marriage in Lagos, with Agege and Idi Araba as focal points, attributed the figure to a World Bank study, saying that Nigeria must be intentional and deliberate in putting an end to child marriage.
She said: “If you look at the rate of child marriage in Nigeria, so many young girls are getting married off and so their productivity is snatched from them at a very young age. That productivity is what they would have contributed to Nigeria’s economy and the money used to fight all of these anomalies in the country.
“So, it is costing the government a lot of money. It is causing a lot for the girls, as their education is being stunted. And the most important is their health condition. If you look at the girls who get married at the age of 12 to 15, they are not ripe for marriage.
“When they get married, they are forced into having children, and then they have complications arising from childbirth. Thus, when they are taken to the hospital for treatment, we know what they go through. We see a lot of pictures with these young girls carrying babies, using diapers, tubes, and that is a lot of cost to Nigeria.
“A lot of money that would have gone into other things is now being channeled to take care of these young girls. And if they had gone to school, imagine their contribution to Nigeria’s economy. That is why the World Bank study says that it costs Nigeria $7.6 billion yearly in terms of productivity.”
HOWEVER, the Programme Officer, CEWHIN, Tolulope Aderibigbe, said her organisation’s engagement with stakeholders and young women within the communities made them realise that the practice of child marriage in Lagos State is a criminal offence.
She said: “Also, it came to the fore that there are no benefits to the practice of child marriage because it is depriving the communities of the opportunity to reap the enormous benefits associated with formally educating the girl-child.”