Addressing Teen Pregnancy and Early Marriage in The Gambia
The persistent high rates of early marriage below the age of 18 is a global concern. Over the last two decades, early marriage in The Gambia declined significantly (from 58% to 30%), however this rate is still high. The reasons for the decline and continuing practice of early marriage, despite the 2010 National Child Protection Strategy Plan, are not well understood. Very few studies have been conducted to find out what and how local factors influence decisions about child marriage in rural Gambian communities.
The overall aim of this study is to determine the factors that either perpetuate or lead to a decline in or early marriage. The information generated will be used to design a relevant package of interventions that will be tested in Lower Badibu District, the second poorest region in the country. This study will involve a cross-sectional household survey with a sample of 915 respondents aged 10 years and above, stratified by ethnicity and age. The research team will convene 28 focus group discussions within each of the four ethnic groups for seven categories of respondents defined by age and sex and key informant interviews with 173 community-based decision makers will also be conducted.
The expected outcome of this project will be changes in knowledge of and attitudes towards early marriage and its prevention at the individual and community levels following the implementation of the package of interventions. The lessons learned will be used to identify factors that can facilitate or hinder the scaling up of the interventions to other communities to reduce the prevalence of early marriage in The Gambia.
The project is closely aligned with the Government of Canada’s new feminist international assistance policy, the strategic priorities detailed in the 2016-2030 WHO led Global Strategy for Women, Children and Adolescents, and the overarching 2030 global agenda for sustainable development.