Continuity and Change: Marriage and Parenthood Among Ethiopian Adolescents.

With changes brought about by education and urbanisation, adolescents and young people in Ethiopia have a greater say compared to previous generations in decisions about who, how and when they marry. Yet, despite this, customary and patriarchal norms still regulate marriage processes and practices, especially in rural areas, constraining girls’ and young women’s choices. 

This new report examines the changes in marriage practice in Ethiopia and explores the lived experience of married adolescents.  It argues that despite important initiatives and government interventions to prevent child marriage and delay early marriage, for the well-being of adolescent boys and especially girls, policy and programmes should pay more attention to the views, needs and rights of the millions of young people in Ethiopia who have already experienced early marriage, cohabitation, separation or divorce. 

This brief, produced in partnership with UNICEF Ethiopia and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is based on two Young Lives research projects: ‘Pathways to Marriage and Parenthood’, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and ‘Young Marriage and Parenthood’ (YMAPS), funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  It  is one of five briefs produced in a series under the joint work of Young Lives and UNICEF (2019-2020) all published on this website, on the Young Lives Ethiopia website ( and the UNICEF-Ethiopia webpage (