Early Child Marriage in Nigeria: Not the Top 1, but the NEXT 10 – Gaius Bala

When there’s fire on the mountain, and nobody seems to be on the run, it might simply mean that the heat of fire is yet to dawn on us, Or just maybe, we’re gradually losing our sensation to the heat that is looming.

Child Marriage is an aged long practice that involves a formal or informal union of a child that is below the age of 18, with or without the child’s consent. It commonly affects the girl child, but the boy child is not an exception.

Over the years, this practice has been many things to many people. Some see it as a poverty alleviation scheme. Others as a strategy for partnership. There is also a historical view that linked it as a measure used to increase childbirth, in places where the life expectancy was crashing to 40-45. In a quest to manage the mortality rate, parents forced their girls to get married, at a very early age.

These and many more reasons have built a formidable network of resistance to this system, making it highly debatable, controversial and sensitive.

In Nigeria, the knowledge of this practice is simply on the KNOW basis. On the KNOW basis because, quite a number of persons just know that child marriage exists. Little or nothing is known about the psychological tussle that comes with a striped childhood; the medical connection of complications and so on.

Worth more of how it relates to Gender Based Violence, Obstetric Fistula, Family planning, Sexual Reproductive Health and a host of others.

This article captures current and timely data that presents you with the heat that comes from the mountain of Child Early Forced Marriage. Hoping that you feel the urgency to run; run to take a step of intervention. Run draw the attention of stakeholders concerned.

The first slide shows UNICEF 2023 global distribution of the girls and women first married or in union before age 18.

As you can see, Nigeria is not the ‘blide’ (TOP 1), India is. However, we rank Number 3, in the Next 10 countries; after Bangladesh and China.

That’s not all, follow me…

The second slide shows the global distribution of the girls that get married under 18, based on region.

You’ll find sub-Saharan Africa being the second most affected region, after South Asia.

That’s a whooping 127millions girls (20%).

What’s even more alarming is that majority of these numbers are from Nigeria. Particularly Northern Nigeria.

Ethiopia and Egypt only form a fraction.


With the rate at which young girls are given into marriage, Nigeria is on her way to being the Top 1 country in Child Early Forced Marriage.

What does this mean?

This means, more children betrothed, without their consent.

It means more girls, exposed to the dangers of childbirth, when clearly, their reproductive system isn’t prepared for it.

This means more pressure on an already stressed Primary Health Care system.

More tendency for child labour, domestic violence and the effects keep compounding.


I know the issue of child early Forced Marriage (CEFM) lies deeply in culture and religion, making it a sensitive topic.

However, you can do something to influence a change…


Advocate for grass root awareness.

Childhood is a fundamental phase of any girl’s life. It shouldn’t be stolen from her.

Alleviate financial burdens in your community, if you have the means to.

Empower girls, build a network for those affected. Balance the scale.

Be a mouthpiece for the implementation of policies that prohibit CEFM…

It is in this vain that Education as a Vaccine, in partnership with UNFPA and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs, trained and deployed 25 youths, selected across three (3) states in Nigeria (Gombe, Kaduna and Akwa Ibom), to serve as social media advocates.

Speaking up on matters that needs to be heard, a little bit harder. Issues like Child Early Forced Marriage, Gender Based Violence, Obstetric Fistula, Family planning, and sexual reproductive health

It’s no doubt, that with an integral and programmatic approach, the curve of CEFM will flatten.

Your active engagement will make a difference.

This is not a ranking we want to be associated with.

Let’s substitute this ranking, to one that speaks of increase in the Girl child involvement in skill acquisition, sports, technological advancement and of course, CEFM advocacy.

Don’t say you can’t do anything. You can!

You can help flatten the CEFM curve.

Your little contribution can stir a tremendous impact in the fight against this act.

Look around you, there’s a mind you can change. A community that hears your voice. Speak up!

If you can impact your own fragment, and others do same, together we flatten the curve of CEFM, alongside its adverse effects.

It is possible! We can do it!!


#GirlsNotBrides #No2CEFM #SRH4U #EndCEFM

Gaius BALA
Show full profile Gaius BALA

A Global Shared-Leadership Biomedical Scientist, with over two years working experience in the diagnostic landscape of northern Nigeria. As a firm advocate of healthcare system strengthening, Gaius is committed to repositioning rural health practice to World Health Organization's Universal Heath Coverage. Currently, He is serving as a core team player for MEDLAB CONVO; one of the fastest growing medical laboratory platform for students and young professionals. He also doubles up as Youth Community Ambassador for UNFPA, representing IGABI local government of Kaduna state. Outside the field of health, you will find him extending his winds of social innovation in community development programs, Arts and literature and Teens Capacity Development. He served as the Organizer of Sokoto Book and Arts Festival 2021; Head of Online Promotion, TEDxArkilla 2021.

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