Child Marriage and Its Impacts on the Education of Girls in the Rural Gambia: Focus on Niani District


child marriage
rural Gambia
girls’ education
educational attainment

How to Cite

Barrow, A., Bah, Y. M., & Sanneh, M. (2022). Child Marriage and Its Impacts on the Education of Girls in the Rural Gambia: Focus on Niani District. Muslim Education Review, 1(2), 278-298.


Twenty-one percent of young women married before the age of eighteen. Approximately 650 million girls and women are married before their 18th birthday (UNICEF, 2020, 2021). States member of the United Nations, through its Sustainable Development Goals, has committed to ending child marriage globally through laws, legislation, and other means. Though the practice of child marriage is declining globally, it remains prevalent in Africa and Asia, particularly in the Gambia. This study looks at the impact of child marriage on girls' education in rural Gambia and the factors that encourage it. The researchers conducted qualitative case study research through documentation, Focus Group discussion (FGD), observation, and interviews to collect data. The study's findings indicate that child marriage has negative impacts on girls' education in rural Gambia. This reveals the fact that the percentage of girls enrolled in schools, especially high school, is lower than boys. Girls also face more difficulties than boys to complete, retain and transit to secondary or higher education. This leaves them with no future and excludes them from social or economic advantages. The factors that encourage child marriage are included: religion, poverty, culture, lack of meaningful opportunity, older men's desire for younger women to marry, and the failure of law enforcement. These factors mentioned repeatedly perpetuate the practice of child marriage, and undermine the educational opportunities for the majority of girls in the Niani district of Gambia. Therefore, the researchers recommend that the Gambian government enforce the existing laws and regulations to protect children’s fundamental rights and put into practice the necessary regulations on the prohibition and elimination of this phenomenon.


Connell, R. (1987). Gender and power. Polity Press.

Cresswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research (2nd ed.). Sage Publications Inc..

Creswell, J.W., & Creswell, J. (2018). Chapter 1 Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.).

Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Pearson Plc.

Creswell, John W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2017). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. SAGE Publications Ltd. In SAGE Publications, Inc..

Daniel, M. I. (2016). Early marriage of young and adolescence girls: Causes and impact on children and society.

Foster, Mulenga, & Harrison, D. (2022). An exploration of school-community collaboration in curbing child marriages among girls in three selected primary schools of Chama District of Zambia. Journal of Lexicography and Terminology, 6(1), 37-59.

UNFPA & UNICEF (2008). Child marriage and the law. UNFPA & UNICEF.

Gambia Bureau of Statistics (2013). The gender report. Population and Housing Census: The Republic of the Gambia.

Gay, L.R., Mills. G.E., & Airasian, P. (2012). Educational research competencies for analysis and applications.

Gemignani, R., & Wodon, Q. (2015). Child marriage and faith affiliation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Stylized facts and heterogeneity. Review of Faith and International Affairs, 13(3),

Ghosh, B. (2016). Indian sociological society child marriage, community, and adolescent girls: The salience of tradition and modernity in the Malda District of West Bengal. Indian Sociological Society, 60(2), 307-326. http://www.js

Grijns, M. (2018). Child marriage in a village in West Java (Indonesia): Compromises between legal obligations and religious concerns. 1-14.

Guilbert, K. (2016). Gambia ban on child marriage could spark backlash, activist fears.

Jallow, R. (2020). Challenges of The Gambia's COVID-19 response and policy recommendations. Cities & Health, 00(00), 1-5.

Jouhki & Stark (2017). Causes and motives of early marriage in the Gambia and Tanzania.

Kamal, S. M. M., Hassan, C. H., Alam, G. M., & Ying, Y. (2015). Child marriage in Bangladesh: Trends and determinants. Journal of Biosocial Science, 47(1), 120-139.

Klugman, J., Hanmer, L., Twigg, S., Hasan, T., McCleary-Sills, J., & Santamaria, J. (2014). Voice and Agency: Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity. Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity,

Lowe, M. (2020). Social and cultural factors perpetuating early marriage in rural Gambia: An exploratory mixed methods study, 1-20. 21076.3

Lowe, M., Joof, M., & Rojas, B. M. (2020). Social and cultural factors perpetuating early marriage in rural Gambia: An exploratory mixed methods study. F1000Research, 8, 1-17.

Malhotra, A., Warner, A., Mcgonagle, A., & Lee-Rife, S. (2011). What the evidence shows: Solutions to end child marriage.

Mathew B. Miles, M. A. H. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook (2nd ed.). Sage Publications.

McCleary-Sills, J., Hanmer, L., Parsons, J., & Klugman, J. (2015). Child Marriage: A critical barrier to girls' schooling and gender equality in education. Review of Faith and International Affairs, 13(3), 69-80.

MoBSE (2004). Education Policy 2004 -2015. Republic of the Gambia Department of State for Education.

MoBSE (2015). The special needs education and inclusive policy framework. The Republic of the Gambia, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE).

MoBSE (2016). Education sector policy 2016 - 2030. The Gambia Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE).

MoBSE (2021). Statistics 2020/2021 Yearbook. Ministry of Basic & Secondary Education: Directorate of Planning, Policy Analysis, Research & Budgeting Education.

MoBSE & UNESCO (2014). The Gambia national education for all review report from 2000 - 2014.

Mwangi-Powell, D. F. (2022). Girls not brides; 2022 is our year to accelerate efforts to end to child marriage.

National Assembly (2005). Republic of the Gambia children's act.

Nguyen, M., & Wodon, Q. (2008). Child Marriage and Education: A major challenge.

Nguyen, M., & Wodon, Q. (2014). Background Paper for Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All Impact of Child Marriage on Literacy and Education Attainment in Africa. Global Partnership for Education,

Parsons, J., Edmeades, J., Kes, A., Petroni, S., Sexton, M., & Wodon, Q. (2015). Economic impacts of child marriage: A review of the literature. Review of Faith and International Affairs, 13(3), 12-22.

Paul, P. (2019). Effects of education and poverty on the prevalence of girl child marriage in India: A district-level analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 100 (Please add the Issue number here), 16-21.

Rights, C. (2018). A Report on Child Marriage in Africa.

Rumble, L., Peterman, A., Irdiana, N., Triyana, M., & Minnick, E. (2018). An empirical exploration of female child marriage determinants in Indonesia. 1-13.

SAGG (2019). Importance of educating girl child.

Sarfo, E. A., Salifu Yendork, J., & Naidoo, A. V. (2020). Understanding child marriage in Ghana: The constructions of gender and sexuality and implications for married girls. Child Care in Practice, 28(2), 228-241.

Subramanee, S. D., Agho, K., Lakshmi, J., Huda, N., & Joshi, R. (2022). Child marriage in South Asia: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The Constitution of the Gambia (1997). Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia, 1997 Reprinted 2002.

UNICEF (2015). A profile of child marriage in Africa.

UNICEF (2020). Child marriage around the world infographic.

UNICEF (2021). 10 million additional girls at risk of child marriage due to COVID-19.

Vogelstein, R. B. (2013). Ending child marriage: How elevating the status of girls advances U.S. foreign policy objectives. Council on Foreign Relations.

Wodon, Q., Nguyen, M. C., & Tsimpo, C. (2016). Child marriage, education, and agency in Uganda. Feminist Economics, 22(1), 54-79.

World Bank (2017). Child marriage will cost developing countries trillions of dollars by 2030, says World Bank/ICRW Report.

Zegeye, B., Olorunsaiye, C. Z., Ahinkorah, B. O., Ameyaw, E. K., Budu, E., Seidu, A. A., & Yaya, S. (2021). Individual/household and community-level factors associated with child marriage in Mali: Evidence from demographic and health survey. BioMed Research International, 2021.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.