This article explores the connections between poverty and the early marriage of girls. These links are rarely acknowledged in development research, policy and practice, despite the fact that in parts of sub- Saharan Africa, where women form the majority of the poor, it is estimated that over 60 per cent of girls under 19 are married (UN 2000). Poverty is characterised by both economic and social factors; in this paper, social factors are the primary focus because of the gender disparities in these social indicators. Early marriage perpetuates the feminisation of poverty, preventing girls from attaining their full potential in terms of developing their social capabilities. Hence, it violates girls’ human rights, especially their right to sexual and reproductive choice and health care. The article ends by proposing an agenda for change.
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