In fact, marrying early was associated with greater empowerment in household decisions and marriage at any age was viewed as increasing a woman’s social status.” The authors also report that most girls and women themselves decided when and who to marry.
“The terms ‘child marriage’ and ‘forced marriage,’ ” Schaffnit said, “are often used interchangeably by development organizations, but we demonstrate that there are contexts in which young people decide to marry early and may be incentivized to do so by gains in status and respect at home and in the community.” Lawson stressed that parental coercion in early marriage does occur in some circumstances.
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Two out of five girls in Sub-Saharan Africa marry under the age of 18.
“We’re not claiming that girls are never forced into early marriages,” he said.
“This certainly happens in some contexts, including in Tanzania.
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.
“But surprisingly little research has explored local peoples’ perceptions of early marriage or directly tested whether parents gain and daughters suffer from marrying under 18 years.” In a pair of papers, lead author Schaffnit and David Lawson, a UCSB assistant professor of anthropology, report on a study of the timing of marriage, bridewealth payments (transferred from the groom’s family to the bride’s family) and women’s wellbeing in rural Tanzania.
The papers are published this month in Nature Human Behaviour and in Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters.