Child marriage is a gender inequality issue globally and this is even prevalent in Fiji.
According to Fiji’s first-ever Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, 12 percent of women in the Northern Division aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18.
The survey states that the proportion of women aged 20-49 marrying or in union before the age of 18 is higher among those with lower levels of education compared to women with secondary, tertiary, or vocational education.
Among women aged 20-49, one in 10 were married before reaching the age of 18 but this practice has reduced over time – with 14 percent for women aged 40-44 to 4 percent for women aged 20-24.
In total, one in 25 women aged 20-24 was first married or in union before reaching the age of 18, and in the same group of women – none of them were reported married or in union before the age of 15.
According to the survey, marriage before the age of 18 is a reality for many young girls in many parts of the world as encouraged by parents in hopes of financial and social benefit.
It also states that child marriage is a violation of human rights, compromising the development of girls and often resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, with little education and poor vocational training reinforcing the gendered nature of poverty.
The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey is an international household survey program developed and supported by UNICEF and its partners.