Research meeting addresses early marriage and teenage pregnancy findings

Recent findings from Young Lives India on early marriage and teenage pregnancy  were today presented at the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) in Hyderabad.

The meeting, in collaboration with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)  brought together experts, academics and policy makers working on issues of gender, youth and adolescence, and specifically on early marriage. The experts shared their views on the research findings from Young Lives, a longitudinal study on childhood poverty and discussed recommendations in the context of policy implementation for reducing early marriage and teenage pregnancy.

At the event, Young Lives also launched a new policy brief Tackling child marriage and early childbirth in India: lessons from Young Lives. The key findings from the policy brief are:

  • 28% of girls in the Young Lives Older Cohort were married before the age of 18. Only 1% of boys had married before 18 years.
  • 59% of married girls had given birth to their first child by the age of 19. All recorded births had happened in wedlock.
  • Girls who had left school by age 15 were four times more likely to marry before the age of 18 than girls who were still in school at age 15.
  • Girls from the poorest households were twice as likely as girls from the least-poor households to be married before the age of 18.

Girls whose parents had the lowest educational aspirations for their daughters at age 12 were twice as likely be married before age 18, compared with girls whose parents had the highest educational aspirations for them.

As well as working with women and girls, the research study suggests that effective engagement is needed with boys, men and the wider community, given their important role in decision-making.

The innovative research-policy programme initiated by Young Lives India and supported by CIFF intends to strengthen adolescent reproductive health and well-being in India. Prof. S. Galab,  Principal Investigator for Young Lives in India and Director of CESS said that, ‘Ministries like MWCD, MHFW, MHRD and local and legal institutions like Panchayati Raj institutions and Child Protection Committees should actively work with young adolescents in preventing child marriages and early pregnancies.’

The meeting concluded with experts and stakeholders noting that changing traditionally held norms and attitudes is a slow and challenging process but it is possible if all stakeholders come together.