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One size does not fit all: the patterning and drivers of child marriage in Ethiopia’s hotspot districts

Research report

Written by Nicola Jones, Georgia Plank

Hero image description: An Ethiopian adolescent girl's hands Image credit:David Walker/ODI

With an eye towards evidence-informed programming to eliminate child marriage in Ethiopia, this national mapping study was commissioned to identify the hotspots for child marriage, investigate the factors that maintain the practice and explore the protective mechanisms that enable children to avoid it.

This ground-breaking research, which required work in 10 Ethiopian languages across seven regional states, is the first study to examine child marriage on a woreda (district) level and is one of only a few to look at child marriage outside of Amhara regional state.

It pays particular attention to identifying drivers of child marriage in 11 hotspot woredas with high prevalence of girls married between the ages of 10 and 17 years, and highlights the primacy of gendered socio-cultural norms.

It also examines the relative importance of economic drivers, land fragmentation, migration, education and post-education livelihood options and religious and traditional values and practices.

Protective factors in each woreda are also examined, including forms of marriage that preclude early cohabitation, community role models, access to secondary education, the engagement of men and boys and the commitment of local leaders.

This research was commissioned by UNICEF Ethiopia and the National Alliance to End Child Marriage in Ethiopia by 2025, spearheaded by the Ethiopian Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs.

Nicola Jones, Bekele Tefera, Guday Emirie, Bethelihem Gebre, Kiros Berhanu, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, David Walker, Taveeshi Gupta and Georgia Plank