Adolescent girls’ capabilities in Ethiopia: the state of the evidence

Bibliography and literature reviews
December 2017
Maria Stavropoulou and Nandini Gupta-Archer

Produced as a resource to inform Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) programming and to be used by researchers, programme designers and policy-makers, this rapid country evidence review brings together key evidence from over 500 thematic studies on Ethiopian adolescent girls (aged 10–19). As a living document to be updated as necessary, it lays out what is known – and identifies what is not known – about girls’ capability development as delineated by the six domains of the GAGE conceptual framework: education and learning; bodily autonomy, integrity and freedom from violence; sexual and reproductive health, health and nutrition; psychosocial wellbeing; voice and agency; and economic empowerment.

Our mapping found that the evidence on Ethiopian girls’ capabilities is broad, albeit especially focused on particular topics (e.g. child marriage, education, and sexual and reproductive health) and some regions of the country (e.g. Amhara). It also found that younger adolescent girls have been largely ignored in favour of their slightly older peers.

Recent – and accelerating – progress has resulted in highly uneven capability development for many adolescent girls in Ethiopia. For example, while girls are now more likely than boys to attend school, their academic performance continues to lag, in part due to the reality that they are expected to manage the lion’s share of household chores. Similarly, while rates of child marriage are plummeting, at least for the youngest girls, not only do marriage and motherhood continue to be seen as central to girls’ trajectories, but in some areas adolescent-driven child marriage – a result of increasing access to voice and agency – is becoming more common even as arranged marriages become less so.