Doctor of Philosophy
This thesis draws on narratives of northern Hausa-Fulani Nigerian women married as child brides. The aim was to gain an in-depth understanding of Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM) as experienced by these former child brides and identify the conditions that influence their decision-making autonomy on health care services utilization. A narrative inquiry approach within an intersectional feminist lens was used to analyze the structural, social, cultural, and religious realities that shape the experiences of former child brides in Nigeria. Fifteen former child brides from rural northern Nigeria who now reside in a southern urban setting of the country completed semi-structural interviews. Cladinin and Connelly’s (2000) three-dimensional framework was used for analysis. Emergent themes were “young age at marriage and agency,” “role of culture and religion,” and “education too late for me but not for my daughter.” The findings indicate that social constructs sustain CEFM to further gender inequality in Nigeria. Former child brides’ past experiences helped shape future positive changes for their daughters, as they now value increased female education as a means to resist CEFM. The results could inform policymakers seeking to protect the rights of women in Nigeria and globally. Factors constraining women’s decision-making authority and agency need to be addressed to enhance former child brides’ advocacy for their daughters. Empowering former child brides through social and cultural initiatives can promote their agency to resist CEFM for future generations through quality education and the possible adoption of formal healthcare delivery in this ethnic group.
Summary for Lay Audience
This thesis uses the stories of northern Hausa-Fulani Nigerian women married before 18 years, with the aim of gaining an understanding of Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM), a practice of marrying off children before they come of age, common in the Hausa-Fulani of Nigeria. We studied the conditions that influence the ability of women who were married as children in Nigeria to make their own decisions regarding the use of health care services. Fifteen of these women from rural northern Nigeria who now live in the urban south completed interviews with the researcher. Cladinin and Connelly’s (2000) three-dimensional framework was used for analysis. The main ideas, common to the women’s stories, were “young age at marriage,” “preference for home birth,” and “education too late for me but not for my daughter.” Our findings indicate that the practice of CEFM persists in Nigeria due to the culture and tradition that assumes men are superior to women in the family. The results further showed that the experiences of these women who married young is helping to shape future positive changes for their daughters, as these women now desire their daughters to have opportunities similar to the southern educated Nigerian women.
The results of our study could assist lawmakers in making laws to protect the rights of women in Nigeria and the world. The conditions that reduce women’s decision-making authority need to be addressed to make the former child brides’ hopes of getting better education for their daughters and eradicate CEFM a reality. Programs to enable these women can increase their decision-making power to resist the practice for future generations through better education and use of formal health care in this ethnic group.
Sonibare, Olubukola Foluke, "Being a Child Bride in Nigeria: A Feminist Narrative Inquiry" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7893.
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