Princeton University Library Catalog

Fragile States, Fragile Girlhoods? Exploring Child Marriage in Conflict & Post-Conflict Contexts in West Africa

Anyanwu, Joanna [Browse]
Senior thesis
Case, Anne [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Class year:
97 pages
Summary note:
Child, or early, marriage—defined as a union in which at least one party is below the age of 18—has long been recognized as a human rights violation that disproportionately impacts women and girls. While many of the driving forces behind the practice have been investigated and documented, the role of state fragility in exacerbating the practice has yet to be the focus of scholarly inquiry despite growing evidence demonstrating key linkages. Specifically, this thesis seeks to add to scant body of literature by examining the role of conflict in the likelihood of early marriage, positing 1) that the presence of conflict increases the probability of early marriage and 2) that vulnerability to early marriage is also elevated in the aftermath of conflict. Employing statistical analyses, this thesis finds that the presence of conflict does indeed boost the likelihood of early marriage. However, the incidence of young adult women having had an early marriage is lower in the aftermath of conflict, a result, the analysis finds, is at least partially due to greater access to education in conflict countries. These results suggest that humanitarian organizations, governments, and other relevant actors must take steps to consider and address the increased risk young women and girls face to early marriage during conflict, taking into account the crucial protective role of education in any proposed and implemented interventions.