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Women's Rights to Land can End Child Marriage

 In rural communities across the world especially in Africa, a girl child is prune to child marriage as a claim for protection whilst being a survival strategy. This behavioural pattern needs to stop and one of the ways out is empower women through land rights.... 

                Oladosu Adenike during one of the projects carried out by I Lead Climate Action Initiative

Women’s Right to Land can End Child Marriage

Every year, 12 million girls are married off before the age of 18. Child marriage is alarming in our world today. This is a violation against our human rights. But what will it take to end child marriage? There are two interacting factors to this which include; climatic and non-climatic drivers. Women’s equal right to land is a solution multiplier. One of such solutions is the end of child marriage. Over time, due to economic, environment, social and cultural reasons, the female child is used as a coping mechanism to deal with these instabilities. Child marriage is never a solution to financial security but rather; it is a weapon against her rights. Also when women are not given the right to control and use resource it becomes a weapon against her empowerment. Research has shown that women with secured rights have higher saving rates. This also could serve as a contributing factor for young girls not to be married out for financial reasons. According to World Bank, “poverty, child marriage and violence decline when women own a land”. This will make women to be part of the solution provider.

In recent times, research has shown that gender equality is a determinant of adaptation to climate change impacts and may also have an effect on the implementation of mitigation policies; projections of trajectories in gender inequality can highlight potential future challenges to combating the negative effects of climate change. This is the case of Sahel where 80% of the landscapes have been degraded leaving behind women and girls to bear the brunt of the climate crisis. At the same time, there are more than 20 million child brides in the region. Likewise women are the first victim of environmental instability; when there is drought or flood and even conflict. This shows a strong correlation between environmental instability and the rise in child marriage. This is why women’s land right is important as a risk minimiser. In like terms, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), “in Sub-Sahara Africa, women make up more than half of the agricultural workforce, yet fewer than one in five own farms. This could be one of the greatest single barriers towards eradicating child marriage. The World Bank stated that, it could take 150 years to achieve gender equality in lifetime earned income and that closing that gap would generate $172 trillion in human capital wealth. Hence, our equal rights could help create a balanced society.

It was further buttressed that if women farmers had the same access to resource as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says. The COVID19 has further weakened women’s right. According to World Bank, Covid-19 lockdowns have increased the probability that children won’t return to school due to the fact that the pandemic further deepens inequality. Women with fragile rights in securing livelihood were the biggest hit the impact of the pandemic. If we want to end child marriage then we must empower women through access to use and control of resource that strengthens environmental protection efforts and livelihood. This will there increase women’s bargaining power and make them a contributor to economic development. A women without a secured right becomes vulnerable to any societal crisis. Giving women access to land makes them become an asset, not a liability. As an ecofeminist, I believe in a world where women and girls have a safe place to exercise their rights without any form of injustices. Our world will not be a better place if women and girls are left behind.

Oladosu Adenike ([email protected]) is an ecofeminist, climate justice activist and ecoreporter. Founder of I Lead Climate Action Initiative.

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