The eradication of child marriage is an important and acknowledged challenge for global policy. A child marriage is defined as a marriage or union of a girl or boy under the age of 18 (UNICEF, 2017). Whereas child marriage is a human rights violation and affects both genders, it affects girls disproportionately (UNICEF 2014). It is quite often the consequence of an entrenched gender inequality especially in South Asian countries. The disproportionate impact of child marriage on girls against the backdrop of the global incidence of child marriage raises specific concerns regarding the implications of child marriage on girls. The impact of child marriage is usually associated with education attainment, participation in the labour force, health and nutrition, fertility and population growth, child mortality, women agency and gender-based violence. Given the high rate of child marriage in Pakistan, it is important to study the economic impact of child marriage in these dimensions.
The aim of this study is three-fold: firstly, to address the existing gap in the evidence on incidence, socio-economic impact and associated costs of child marriage in Pakistan; secondly, to inform policy debate and legal reform at the governmental level for eradication of child marriage through evidence-based research; and thirdly, to generate a wider socio-political and normative discourse around the issue of child marriage. This study contributes to the gaps in the existing literature on cost of child marriage in Pakistan using a sample that is representative of the national population. This study enables to better assess the costs of child marriage in the Pakistani context, by gathering new information on the direct and indirect cost of child marriage from 10 randomly districts from Punjab and KP.
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