1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria has the largest population of any African country, some 162.5 million people. Of this number, 49% are female; some 80.2 million girls and women, hence the need for policy makers to pay attention to the situation of women in the country. Therefore, any discussion about Nigeria’s future must necessarily entail consideration of girls and women, the roles they play and the barriers they face in crafting the future. In 1990, the World Conference on Education for All (EFA) identified improving access to quality education for girls and women as “the most urgent priority” (Kyari and Ayodele, 2014:583). More than one hundred countries re-affirmed this at the April 2000 Dakar World Education Forum; ‘ensuring that by 2015 all children, with special emphasis on girls, have access to and complete a primary education of good quality’ (Kyari and Ayodele, 2014:583). At this meeting (the Dakar World Education Forum), the United Nations Secretary- General, Kofi Annan, launched the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). In an unprecedented step, 13 UN entities, led by UNICEF agreed to work together on this 10-year initiative to help governments meet their commitments to ensure quality education for all girls globally.
The history of marriage dates back to the history of mankind. Biblically, God created the first man called Adam and he was without helper. God being omnipotent and omniscient know his problem and hired him into a great slumber and removed one of his ribs and created a woman called Eve (Genesis 2:21-22) from this time, marriage was first contracted by Adam and Eve who was the first parent on earth to highlight this, the holy bible says, so God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him, male and female and God blessed them and said to them “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth ad subdue it” Gen. 1:27-28.
Throughout the world, marriage is regarded as a moment of celebration and a milestone in adult life. Sadly, the practice of early marriage gives no such cause for celebration. All too often, the imposition of a marriage partner upon a child means that a girl or boy’s childhood is cut short and their fundamental rights are compromised (UNICEF, 2001). Young girls are robbed of their youth and required to take on roles for which they are not psychologically or physically prepared. Many have no choice about the timing of marriage or their partner. Some are coerced into
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