Negotiating Identities and Power: Experiences of Adolescent Motherhood and Child Marriage in Malawi

Elita Chamdimba, University of Malawi
Janne Breimo, Nord University

This paper explores how adolescent mothers in Malawi who are at risk of child marriage negotiate new identities and exercise power in everyday life. Empirical data was collected in two districts - Dedza and Lilongwe. Three focus group discussions (FGDs) were with three, nine and three adolescent mothers respectively, and one FGD was with fourteen community members. The study found that adolescent mothers embodied fragmented identities that are changing over time given the influence of life events such as child marriage and early school dropout. Amid the different combinations of roles, the several identities that were observed were: mother, wife, young, adolescent, girl, married, unmarried, victim of child marriage, survivor of child marriage, unemployed, employed, poor, student, and school dropout.

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  Presented in Session P2. Poster Session 2