DAR ES SALAAM, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Educating girls and ending child marriage could accelerate development progress and the reduction of poverty in Tanzania, said a new report released by the World Bank on Wednesday.
In contrast, said the report, the perpetuation of child marriage and the lack of education for girls would lead to lower earnings for women, substantial health risks, higher intimate partner violence, higher population growth and higher poverty, among other impacts.
The report, entitled The Power of Investing in Girls, showed that notwithstanding a declining trend, almost one in three girls still marry before the age of 18 in Tanzania, whether through formal or informal unions.
"Almost one in four girls has their first child before the age of 18. Partly because of this, the completion rate for secondary school for girls in the country remains very low," said the report.
"Investing in girls' education is not only an investment in the girl herself, but also in her children - the future generation - bringing substantial benefits to the wider society and the economy," said Bella Bird, World Bank Country Director for Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somalia.
She added: "The evidence in this report clearly shows the very high value to Tanzania of investing in girls and ending child marriage."
One of the largest economic benefits from ending child marriage and educating girls would result from a reduction in population growth and thereby higher standards of living and lower poverty, said the report.
"If women who had married as girls had been able to delay their marriage, their annual earnings today could have been higher by more than 600 million U.S. dollars. Ending child marriage and educating girls is not only the right thing to do, it is also a smart investment," said Quentin Wodon, World Bank Lead Economist and co-author of the report.
The report called for greater investment in girls' education, providing economic opportunities for girls who are out of school and cannot go back to school, and imparting adolescent girls with life skills and reproductive health knowledge.