“The Challenges Made Me Stronger”: What Contributes to Young People’s Resilience in Ethiopia?

Working paper


This working paper explores the meanings and experiences of resilience, and its gender dimensions, among a cohort of Ethiopian children exposed to poverty and adversity across the early life course. It asks why some girls and some boys seem to fare well as they transition to adulthood, despite the challenges and obstacles they had faced, while others do less well.

Qualitative analysis revealed how children’s lives did not follow linear paths, and were easily derailed by unplanned events and shocks, including: climatic shocks, societal influences, school transitions and relations,  household changes; and  child health and social development. It also identifed significant resilience factors, including: supportive and facilitative relationships (especially elder siblings); enabling and protective systems and environments; government and NGO support; young people’s inner resources and pro-social skills; and second chances.  A combination of well-timed, mutually reinforcing factors within holistic support systems, rather than a single factor, appeared to make the most difference

This working paper and the accompanying policy brief are part of a set of eight working papers and eight policy briefs on gendered transitions into young adulthood in Ethiopia.