Early Marriage and Parents’ Socio‐Economic Status in Peasant Communities: The Case of Gendwabalangev and Gevavasalj Peasant Associations in Dembia Woreda Of North Gondar, Amhara Region

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Addis Ababa University


The main objectives of this study were to identify and examine types, prevalence and causes of early marriage and to investigate the link between early marriage and parents’ socio-economic status in two peasant communities in Dembia Woreda of North Gondar, Amhara Region. To achieve these objectives, both secondary and primary data sources were used. A mixed study design was employed to collect primary data with a combination of survey, focus group discussion, and key informant interview methods. Both purposive and random sampling techniques were used in selecting samples. The study Woreda and the two peasant associations were selected purposively. Survey respondents (186) were selected using stratified simple random sampling proportional to size, while focus group discussion participants and key informants were selected purposively based on the knowledge of the local language and culture. Data collection instruments included questionnaire, focus group discussion and key informant interview guides. Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques were employed. Accordingly, survey results were analyzed using percentages, frequencies, means, and cross-tabulations, while data from focus group discussions and key informant interviews were organized by themes and described to supplement the quantitative data. Finally, the data gathered through various sources were analyzed thematically using triangulation to increase the reliability, credibility and validity of the research findings. Pertaining to the major findings of the study, four types of early marriage arrangements were identified in the studied peasant associations. Regarding the prevalence of early marriage, 86% of daughters were married below the legal marriage age (18 years).More specifically, the degree of marrying early is differing among wealth groups.Accordinglly, about 97.4% of 39 high and 93% of 71 middle wealth groups of sample parent respondents married off their daughters at an early adolescent age (below 15 years). Only about 39.6% of 58 lower wealth groups married off their daughters below 15 years. However, very low wealth group of parents did not married off their daughters below 15 years. The mean age at first marriage was 12.96 years for daughters and 20.36 years for sons. High, middle, lower and very low wealth groups of sample parent respondents married off their daughters in first marriage at a mean age of 10.4,11.3,15.2, and 18.7 years old, respectively. The major reasons for marrying off daughters early differ among the different wealth groups of parent respondents. The major reasons for high and middle wealth categories of parents were: to form marriage alliance with land and cattle rich families, for honor, to avoid the stigma of being unmarriageable; to get their children married before the resource is getting low. For some lower and very low wealth group of parent respondents, fear of unwanted pregnancy before marriage is the major reason to marry off their daughters early. Therefore, to reduce, if possible to stop, the practice of early marriage in the studied peasant communities of Dembia Woreda, specific intervention measures need to be developed based on socio-economic realities of rural peasant communities.



Gender Studies