Centre for International Health


Research Initiative to Support the Empowerment of girls

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Adolescent pregnancies carry risks to the young mothers and the baby. Keeping girls in school can potentially protect girls from getting pregnant, but many girls drop out early, often because their guardians struggle to pay school fees and uniform. In Zambia, 35% of young rural girls have given birth by the age of 18. Widespread myths around contraception and social norms around marriage and childbearing contribute to high rates of early pregnancy.

The University of Bergen, the University of Zambia, Chr. Michelsen’s Institute and the Norwegian School of Economics are together conducting a cluster randomized controlled trial in order to measure the effect on early childbearing rates in a rural Zambian context by:

(1) providing economic support to girls and their families, and

(2) combining economic support with a community intervention to enhance knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and supportive community norms.

The trial has three study arms. Approximately 5000 girls enrolled in grade 7 in 157 schools were recruited in 2016 in 12 study districts. In one intervention arm participating girls are offered monthly cash transfers, their parents are offered an annual grant, and in addition the girls’ school fees will be paid if they attend junior secondary school. The second intervention arm will be offered the same economic support combined with community meetings and a youth club for girls and boys about sexual and reproductive health. The interventions will be running to the end of 2018, and the girls will be followed up until the end of 2020.

Learn more from CISMAC's web page.