Women are disadvantaged in relation to men in many developing countries. Limited access to education, together with a traditionally subordinate status, limit women’s opportunity to develop independent economic roles or achieve positions of authority within society.
Traditions of early marriage further reduce opportunities for education, autonomy and authority. Early marriage typically leads to larger families and can also result in greater prevalence of maternal death and injury related to childbirth and in additional difficulties in bringing up children.
Following marriage, a woman’s lack of economic independence coupled with patriarchal traditions means that her ability to determine the number and spacing of children may be limited.
Women are also vulnerable to violence and sexual assault, both within and outside marriage, further reducing their ability to play a full and independent role. Coercive sex leading to pregnancy is a major and under-reported abuse of human rights. In situations of conflict, rape can even become a deliberate and systematic “weapon of war”.
Read more about the lack of women’s rights.