Seblewongiel Aynalem, Sewmhon Demissie, Sonja John

Child marriage is a well-documented problem in Ethiopia. Although some progress has been made in the past decade to decrease cases of child marriage, it remains common practice. The global citizenship education (GCE) framework, with its broad understanding of human security, holds that individuals and civil society, as well as state institutions and the global community, carry joint responsibility for achieving and maintaining people’s wellbeing. GCE is well-researched in the global north, but its applicability to Global South contexts has received little attention thus far. This project fills this critical knowledge gap. It examines how parliamentarians in Ethiopia are addressing child marriage, and the extent to which this does or does not align with the GCE framework, as well as whether the GCE is even relevant in resolving human security problems in societies like Ethiopia.

The project team conducted interviews with people working in regional bureaus of health, women and children, justice, and education in Amhara. They presented their analysis of current laws, policies, practices, and attitudes around child marriage with local community groups as part of Plan International’s ‘Yene Raey’ (My Vision) project, and at Setaweet’s (the feminist organisation) all-women academic conference in 2019. They are also developing academic articles for publication on the topic of child marriage and the efficacy of the global citizenship education framework in securing social, cultural, and political change in this area.

In addition to their research the team produced a leaflet for distribution to young girls and women about their rights and about the organisations they can contact for support. And they participated in a series of community conversations about the kinds of interventions that are needed to put an end to child marriage, with the aim of bringing these to the attention of Amhara parliamentarians and advocating for child marriage to be a key election issue.

About the research team

Seblewongiel AynalemSonja John (@narrfnarrf) and Sewmhon Demissie are all Assistant Professors at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia, ranging across the social work, political science and international studies, and gender and development studies departments. Their project stems from the emergence of Global Citizenship Education (GCE) as an important trans-national collaborative research theme between Bahir Dar University and Klagenfurth University in Austria.