Stu­dents, not brides

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

In fact, Rosanna’s po­ten­tial could have been ex­tin­guished at the mo­ment when her new hus­band de­manded that she end her ed­u­ca­tion – a de­mand im­posed on many child brides. But Rosanna was ex­cep­tion­ally coura­geous and re­fused, claim­ing con­trol of her own fu­ture. Un­for­tu­nately, most child brides do not have that op­tion, and end up fac­ing a far bleaker fate.

When girls like Rosanna stay in ed­u­ca­tion, in­stead of mar­ry­ing early, the ben­e­fits are not theirs alone; their coun­tries’ economies gain as well. If Niger, for ex­am­ple, were to end child mar­riage by 2030, the com­bi­na­tion of higher ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment and lower fer­til­ity rates would leave the coun­try $25 bln richer than it was in 2015. That should be enough to make any gov­ern­ment pay at­ten­tion.

But the ben­e­fits of ed­u­ca­tion ex­tend far be­yond sta­tis­tics. Af­ter all, stu­dents do not just learn sub­jects like math, science, and lit­er­acy at school. They also de­velop friend­ships and learn life skills, such as how to ar­tic­u­late opin­ions, ne­go­ti­ate, lis­ten, and be re­spect­ful to­ward oth­ers. All of these lessons help to boost not just their earn­ing power, but also their con­fi­dence and ca­pac­ity to par­tic­i­pate in pub­lic life.

Be­yond cre­at­ing a bet­ter life for her­self, an ed­u­cated, em­pow­ered girl sup­ports the pros­per­ity of mem­bers of her fam­ily and wider com­mu­nity – in­clud­ing fathers, brothers, and hus­bands, as much as

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