Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Question guide: researching norms about early marriage and girls' education


Written by Nicola Jones, Fiona Samuels


​This Question guide outlines the key qualitative tools used to investigate gender norms, with a particular focus on tools used in the second year of our research, which focused on norms related to child marriage and education.

Qualitative research is particularly valuable for understanding gender norms that affect adolescent girls, because it allows people’s own perspectives and voices to come through, and gives the researcher a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the complexities involved in studying gender norms. By listening to what girls, their families and community leaders say, researchers can explore how people perceive the norms that pattern lives, and how they are  - or are not – changing. These insights can be invaluable in challenging received wisdom about how gender norms affect adolescent girls in particular contexts.

This Question guide outlines qualitative tools which have been used and adapted across four countries as part of the DFID-funded ODI programme, Transforming the Lives of Adolescent Girls and Young Women, which involved research in Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda and Viet Nam. These tools were adapted to reflect specific issues in different contexts. 

Tools include body mapping, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, intergenerational trios, and outlier case studies each aiming to explore gender norms and their impact on the lives of adolescent girls. These tools can be used with girls themselves, adolescent boys, parents, parents-in-law and key informants, such as government officials and programme implementers.

Nicola Jones, Fiona Samuels and Carol Watson