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African Journal of Reproductive Health

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Evaluation of a Reproductive Health Program to Support Married Adolescent Girls in Rural Ethiopia

A Erulkar, T Tamrat

Abstract


Few reproductive health programs are targeted to married adolescent girls. This study measures changes associated with a program for married  adolescent girls and a parallel husbands’ program, in rural Ethiopia. The married girls’ program provided information on communication,  self-esteem, reproductive health and gender through girls’ groups. The husbands’ program focused on non-violence, support to families, and reproductive health. Population-based surveys were undertaken among married girls, at midterm and end line. Outcomes of interest were  husbands’ assistance with domestic work, accompaniment to the clinic,  family planning use, voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), and domestic violence. Overall, 1,010 married girls were interviewed. Participation in the girls’ groups was associated with improvements in help with domestic work, accompaniment to the clinic, family planning and VCT. Further  improvements were recorded when both partners participated. For example, participating girls were nearly 8 times more likely to receive VCT (OR 7.7) than nonparticipants, and more than 18 times more likely if both partners participated (OR 18.3). While these results are promising, there were  indications of selectivity bias that could have contributed to the positive  results. Programs engaging both wives and husbands can result in  incremental improvements to the health and well-being of girls married  early. Afr J Reprod Health 2014; 18[2]: 68-76).

Keywords: Early marriage, male involvement, reproductive health, gender




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