Tackling child marriage and early childbearing in India: lessons from Young Lives

Case Studies & Research
Young Lives
4 p.

The Government of India has made combatting child marriage and early childbearing a priority. This brief uses data collected from 1,000 19-year-olds in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to help inform policy and programming efforts. In Young Lives survey, 28% of girls and just 1% of boys married before the age of 18. By the age of 19, a majority (59%) of married young women had already given birth. Young Lives has been following the lives of these young people and their families since 2002. The information they have shared over that time allows Young Lives to understand which girls are most likely to marry and have their first child at a young age. Girls who married before the age of 18 were more likely to have left school before 15, and to come from a poorer background. Their parents and caregivers were less likely to be well-educated or to have high aspirations for their daughters. These findings highlight the importance of safe, accessible and high-quality secondary education for girls, and the need for effective social protection and investment in livelihoods and opportunities for young women and men so that families feel confident that they can delay their daughters’ marriage and invest in their education and future. Young couples need access to sexual and reproductive health services and information to enable them to delay their first pregnancy and to space their children, although the pressure to have children soon after marriage can be intense.

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