Sexual and reproductive health and inequalities in Ethiopia: Insights from Young Lives longitudinal research

Case Studies & Research
Young Lives
45 p.

This report summarises key findings from 27 Young Lives publications on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) across five themes: female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); marriage and cohabitation; contraception knowledge and use; pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting; and SRH services. It also presents new survey and qualitative analysis focusing on inequalities based on gender, generation, age and cohorts, family composition, household circumstances, personal characteristics, marital status and residence.
The report demonstrates that gender differences and inequalities are regulated by patriarchal norms which become accentuated through adolescence; young women have far higher rates of child marriage and fertility, and face risks of forced marriage and abduction. Young women have less knowledge about fertility than young men. Unmarried girls have limited access to contraception and face serious risks due to unplanned pregnancies, notably potentially unsafe abortion, and are pressured into cohabitation or early marriage, or face the challenges of single motherhood. The report also explores how gendered inequalities interact with, and are accentuated by other differentials including age, family composition, poverty and household circumstances, location and shocks.
Despite the persistence of prevailing patriarchal norms, there has been significant change over recent years. FGM/C and abductions have decreased, while access to contraception and institutional delivery have improved. There are lower rates of child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) and fertility among girls compared to their mothers, and between our Younger Cohort and Older Cohort. Yet, patriarchal values remain strongly entrenched, with significant urban/rural and regional differences and family circumstances continue to disadvantage girls from poorer households.The report sets out preliminary policy implications. A full policy report will be published in early 2023.