Action to empower adolescent mothers in Burkina Faso and Malawi to improve their sexual and reproductive health
Across sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls from the poorest socioeconomic strata are vulnerable to early unintended pregnancy, child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, gender-based violence, and related negative health outcomes. Undoubtedly, the high burden of poor sexual and reproductive health among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa is holding back progress on the Sustainable Development Goal to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services. However, it also has ramifications that go beyond poor health outcomes. Specifically, education outcomes are at risk. For example, pregnancy accounts for half of all cases of high-school dropouts among adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Their inability to return to school increases adolescent mothers’ risk of child marriage, rapid repeat pregnancy, and intimate partner violence that further entraps these girls in an endless cycle of ill health, poverty, and social exclusion.
Despite the well-documented negative consequences of early unintended pregnancy on girls' education, health, and social wellbeing, few interventions have focused on education and economic empowerment of adolescent mothers in sub-Saharan Africa. This project seeks to test three gender-transformative interventions aimed at supporting adolescent mothers in Burkina Faso and Malawi to continue their education and improve their sexual and reproductive health. They include a cash transfer conditioned on (re)enrolment into school or vocational training; subsidized childcare; and adolescent mothers’ clubs where parenting adolescents will receive life-skills training covering nurturing childcare, sexual and reproductive health, and financial literacy. Expected outcomes among adolescent mothers include increased educational attainment, improved financial independence, increased sexual and reproductive health knowledge, improved life skills, and improved mental health.
This project is one among four selected through a closed competition under the program “Advancing Sexual, Reproductive and Maternal Health Innovations using Gender Transformative Approaches”.