It is important to recognise the link between child marriages and pregnancy and how to support girls and adolescents who are already married or in a union, pregnant or mothers. Our third session of the Girls Not Brides learning series did just that.
In this session, we shared information on:
- The links between child marriage and adolescent motherhood around the world
- Promising work being carried out by Girls Not Brides member organisations to support married girls and adolescent mothers
- How support for adolescent mothers can be integrated into the education, health and child protection sectors
Key takeaways and recommendations:
- Child marriage and adolescent pregnancy are closely linked – 90% of births to adolescent girls take place in the context of marriage.
- Focus has been on prevention and health risks, but more support is needed for girls and adolescents who are already pregnant or mothers.
- Responses to adolescent marriage, pregnancy and motherhood should be holistic, integrated into existing national strategies and consider girls’ education; economic opportunities; reproductive coercion; mental health, discrimination and support for new mothers; gender-based violence; HIV; and access to justice and support services.
- Create referral and tracking mechanisms between the health, education and child protection systems to identify pregnant adolescents in school and refer them to appropriate maternal health, support and child protection services.
- Create safeguarding policies in schools to refer girls to appropriate child protection and psychosocial support services where the pregnancy is the result of rape or the father is an adult.
- Track adolescent girls who have left school due to pregnancy and actively reach out to girls after birth to facilitate reintegration into school.
- Combine access to education, health and child protection services with community-based programmes to lessen the stigma associated with adolescent pregnancy and motherhood and build girls’ agency.
Supporting adolescent mothers, girls who are pregnant and married girls is important in order to prevent:
- Health Risks: 99% of all maternal deaths happen among adolescent girls aged 15-19
- Disruption to education: due to lack of awareness of re-entry policies, lack of flexibility, finance, parental support, ongoing stigmatisation and discrimination
- Impact on future life prospects: less access to secure, well-paid employment; financial insecurity, leading to informal unions and/or transactional sex; stigmatisation; daughters more likely to become adolescent mothers.
- Reproductive coercion: removing the right to decide if and when to have children.
- Mental health: increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
- Gender-based violence: Adolescent mothers are more likely to experience intimate partner violence.
- HIV: Within East and Southern Africa, HIV infection correlates with adolescent motherhood.
You can watch the session back and view presentations, notes and resources, downloadable below.
- Supporting married girls, adolescent mothers and girls who are pregnant
- Learning series session 3: takeaways and recommendations (PDF, 259.9kB)
- Sesiones de aprendizaje 3: principales aportaciones (español) (PDF, 245.8kB)
- Seminaires d'apprentissage 3: points principaux (français) (PDF, 259.0kB)
- Supporting married girls, adolescent mothers and girls who are pregnant - Session presentation (PPTX, 16.1MB)