Child Marriage Prevention in Amhara Region, Ethiopia: Association of Communication Exposure and Social Influence with Parents/guardians' Knowledge and Attitudes


Author(s): Gage, A

Year: 2013

Social Science & Medicine 97 (2013) 124-133

Despite increasing international attention to child marriage and its negative health and social consequences, little is known about the knowledge and beliefs of individuals who are in control of negotiating children's marriages and of the social context in which these individuals function. Using data from a 2007 cross-sectional household survey and multilevel logistic regression models, this paper examined the associations of communication exposure and measures of social influence with knowledge of marriage legislation, perceptions that marriage before age 18 was “too early”, and beliefs in daughters' rights to individual marriage choice among parents/guardians in Amhara Region, Ethiopia. The study found that mass media and interpersonal communication exposure were positively associated with all outcomes. The influence of communication exposure on knowledge of the legal minimum age at marriage and the perception that marriage before 18 was “too early” varied significantly across communities. Community pressure to stop child marriages and awareness of marriage law enforcement were positively associated with endorsing daughters' rights to choose their marriage age and partner. Perceived social norms regarding early marriage, normative beliefs and perceived benefits of delayed marriage were at least as important as communication exposure for endorsing daughters' rights to marriage choice. Gender and education differences were detected. The findings imply that child marriage-prevention programs should diversify information channels, reinforce perceived advantages of delayed marriage, and adopt a social influence perspective.

Filed under: Ethiopia , Reproductive Health , Child Health