Child Marriage a Handicap to Female Labour Market Transition

Although Uganda has a fairly strong and enabling legal and policy framework, young females continue being propelled into early marriages and pregnancies and are often deprived of full education attainment.

This experience according to Gemma Ahaibwe, a Research Fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) is likely to have lasting impacts on female opportunities, particularly, their engagement in productive and decent work.

Drawing from findings of the 2013 and 2015 school to work transition survey conducted across 4 districts from the East, North and Central Uganda, Ahaibwe warns that progression from primary to secondary school remains a challenge for females and this usually climaxes by failure to attain better employment.

In 2015, barely 31 percent girls attained at least some secondary education and only 16 percent completed primary. 53.1 percent either had no education at all or attempted only primary school.

According to the survey, girls drop out of school majorly due to early pregnancies, economic barriers and child marriages, with the latter being largely driven by social norms.

The survey explains that children sent to school with no books and pens feel out of place, going back to school after giving birth is looked at as a waste of money by most parents and many parents marry off their daughters early to acquire cows, which they feel may reproduce faster and create wealth.

 

Gemma Ahaibwe (holding mic) takes part in a panel discussion duirng the 2018 GrOW Policy workshop held in Uganda. Photo by Mouris Opolot

Ahaibwe was presenting- Education, marriage, fertility and labour market experiences of young women in Uganda, during the GrOW Policy workshop held at Lake Victoria Serena in Wakiso on March 11, 2018.

Her presentation originates from the 2016 study titled “An Assessment of Early Labour Market Transitions of Women in Uganda: A Descriptive Approach”, which she co authored with Sarah Ssewanyana, and Ibrahim Kasirye.

The study explored the inter-linkages between the transitions from school to work or motherhood and/or marriage and the ensuing effects on future labour market outcomes and choices.

The report quotes a female participant cry that “those who drop out of school before completion are less likely to access formal employment opportunities.”
“Unpaid family labour is more likely to be the first activity for most young people particularly uneducated women,” another female participant said.

Ahaibwe calls for sensitization programs to break cultural norms and keep girls in school, provision of second chance programs for teenage mothers and strengthening of enforcement and awareness of legal sanctions against child marriages.

Source links: Economic Policy Research Centre

The Ugandan girl who trekked barefoot to escape marriage at 13

Scholastica Nacap walked barefoot for 60km, across dangerous mountain terrain in north-east Uganda, to avoid getting married. She was just 13. Orphaned at nine, she was told by her father’s relatives she must marry a much older, wealthy man, so Nacap ran.

“I had to escape. I couldn’t accept [becoming] a wife and mother at 13,” she says.

Five years on Nacap is back in Karamoja, this time leading the way in the fight against early marriage and child pregnancy in this remote region. Child marriage is common in Karamoja, which has a population of about 1 million people, mainly pastoralists, scattered across 27,900 sq km of semi-arid terrain.

“Change is a gradual process that takes time,” says Alain Sibenaler, Uganda’s representative of the UN population fund, UNFPA. “However, through awareness-raising and community engagements, communities are beginning to appreciate the need to invest in education.”

Globally, an estimated 12 million girls are married before they turn 18. A report by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the World Bank concluded that child marriage costs nations billions and destroys life prospects for girls.

The legal age of marriage in Uganda is 18 (although girls can marry from 16 with parental consent), but UN statistics suggest 40% of girls marry before 18, and 10% before they are 15.

The ICRW report said a lack of sex education and access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services contributed to early pregnancies that very often lead to early marriage.

The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2016 reported that almost a fifth (19%) of girls aged 15 to 19 have given birth – another 5% were pregnant with their first child. Teenagers in rural areas were more likely to have children at a young age. Around 25% of those who drop out of school are pregnant teenagers.

Uganda has one of the world’s youngest populations, with 75% of people below the age of 30 and 58% under the age of 20. The country also has one of the highest fertility rates – women give birth to an average of 5.6 children – compared with 4.8 in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. This is attributed to low use of contraceptives and early marriage.

Nacap is one of those trying to turn the tide where she lives. She now helps at a club for girls run by Bangladeshi NGO Brac, aimed at 10- to 22-year-olds and offering information on the dangers of early marriage and pregnancy. They also provide training, including tailoring and agricultural skills, and advice on how to manage money.

“In club discussions I advise the girls to shun early pregnancy and early marriages. I tell them not to be deceived by boys to ruin their future. I encourage them to go to school to study,” says Nacap, who is back in contact with her family. “Those who can’t manage studies [I encourage] to engage in a particular business activity and earn money for themselves.”

There are 250 clubs in Karamoja’s seven districts. “We share our experiences by telling stories, participating in debates, discussion of issues such as rape, adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights, growing up and menstrual hygiene. We talk about HIV, family planning and contraception,” says Nacap.

A total of 14,392 of girls have attended since May 2016, and about a quarter of them now run a business or have a job. About 80% have control over their earnings and 59% participate in household decision-making.

Nacap now runs a small bakery and restaurant – making doughnuts and selling cooked mixed maize and beans, chapatis and tea. She is not married and does not plan to be any time soon. “Which boy or man can deceive and lure me? No. I have money from business. I am busy trying to expand it. I don’t have time to think about men and marriage,” says Nacap.

She uses some of the money she earns to support her two sisters. “I need them to study and become role models. Our [relatives] should stop thinking about marrying them off. They should educate them to become lawyers, teachers, engineers and bankers who can make change in our community,” says Nacap.

“I need financial support. I need to expand the bakery and restaurant business to achieve my dreams.”

Effectiveness of “Girls Parliament” in ending child marriage

What is the effectiveness of “Girls Parliament” in ending child marriage?

By engaging girls with community and religious leaders including boys and girls, men and women, policy makers and influencers the power of Girls Parliament as a community awareness intervention in ending child marriage will be realised. SCOEN will identify impact pathways included creating opportunities for reflection and helping people shift both attitudes and practices, face-to-face communication with target groups and generating the ability to address issues of concern directly and to re-frame local thinking.

SCOEN will use communications-focused interventions

  • Community and religious elders be prioritised for child marriage and gender equality messages as they are often the ultimate gatekeepers of social norms.
  • Boys and men be targeted aimed at encouraging new masculinities that support their sisters and daughters to reach adulthood before they become wives.
  • Face-to-face discussion encourages local ownership and combined with top-down or media approaches for best effect.
  • Peer-to-peer education, girls’ clubs bring transformatory change to girls, helping them build confidence and voice while learning about their rights, serving as critical venues for reporting planned marriages.

Whats Girls’ Parliament and how will it be run?

A Girl’s Parliament consists of a sequence of sessions, each leading to the intended outcome. Child Marriage may not be discussed in the initial sessions to avoid community backlash. Related motivational activities will be used to introduce the topic. The initial sessions will be informed by the local context of the community.

The main objective of Girls’ parliament is to create a platform that promotes critical reflection that allows for questioning of beliefs, myths and practices in order to realize a change in social norms to accelerate the abandonment of Child Marriage.

This will: –

  • create a deeper understanding of communities, their situation, current practices, interests, existing opportunities and challenges and helps devise mitigating strategies for sustainable behavior change
  • enhance accountability and stimulates action and a sense of ownership of agreed interventions by the community
  • enable identification of key persons in the community in order to build networks and partnerships to ensure sustainability
  • enhance the capacity of the facilitators to develop effective and adaptable skills in inclusive decision-making for attitude and behavior change

The following steps are essential in organizing and conducting the girl’s parliament:

Training of community facilitators; stakeholders’ mapping and engagement; participant identification; develop leading questions; venue selection; and timing of the dialogue; Participant mobilization – a maximum of 45 participants is advisable for one facilitator.

It’s also important to understand how to conduct such effective sessions to bring about the desired change. Like to: – introduce the purpose of the dialogue; language of the dialogue, rules of engagement; community resolve and action plan; evaluating the dialogue and concluding the dialogue

FACILITATION:

Facilitation plays a significant role as it ensures that the objectives are met. It is thus imperative to have a qualified individual who will understand the qualities, roles and responsibilities of facilitation to effectively moderate theconversation. This person will be sourced to facilitate, conversant with Child Marriage issues and may be able to handle different scenarios. she may be confronted with different scenarios during the dialogue process that may hinder successful engagement and conclusion of the process

 

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