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Constrained choices: exploring the complexities of adolescent girls’ voice and agency in child marriage decisions in Ethiopia

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Written by Nicola Jones

Hero image description: 15-year-old girl who was married when she was 12 in Amhara, Ethiopia Image credit: Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE

Ethiopia has recently seen a remarkable fall in the proportion of girls who marry in early adolescence, reflecting the country’s lauded efforts to tackle child marriage. However, aggregate national figures mask a more complex reality. This article explores this complexity, drawing on qualitative data with adolescent girls and boys, their caregivers, service providers and community leaders, from the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) longitudinal study baseline. Our findings highlight the complex interplay between cultural norms, economic factors, individual voice and agency, and collective support thereof, on the part of leaders and service providers, from grassroots to national levels.

15-year-old girl who was married when she was 12 in Amhara, Ethiopia
Image credit: Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE
Nicola Jones, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Guday Kassahun and Meti Kebedi