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17-year-old adolescent mother who lives alone in Rwanda. Photo: Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE 2020

‘If She’s Pregnant, then that Means that Her Dreams Fade Away’: Exploring Experiences of Adolescent Pregnancy and Motherhood in Rwanda

13.08.21 | Across GAGE capabilities | Rwanda

Authors

Ernestina Coast, Marie Merci Mwali, Roberte Isimbi, Ernest Ngabonzima, Paola Pereznieto, Serafina Buzby, Rebecca Dutton and Sarah Baird

Adolescent motherhood can alter the future opportunities available to girls and the challenges they face. This article considers how adolescents’ capabilities are influenced by pregnancy and motherhood, using a mixed-methods case study of Rwanda. Adolescent motherhood impacts girls’ lives across multiple capabilities including education, psychosocial well-being, voice and agency, and economic empowerment. Rarely were adolescent mothers in our sample supported to return to school, for instance. Their pregnancy and motherhood were stigmatised by their families, peers, wider community and service providers. The psychosocial consequences of adolescent motherhood are significant, linked to social isolation and multifaceted stressors, including poverty. Despite recent policy and service improvements, adolescent mothers continue to be left behind.

Suggested citation

Coast, E., Mwali, M.M., Isimbi, R., Ngabonzima, E., Pereznieto, P., Buzby, S., Dutton, R. and Baird, S. (2021) ‘If She’s Pregnant, then that Means that Her Dreams Fade Away’: Exploring Experiences of Adolescent Pregnancy and Motherhood in Rwanda. The European Journal of Development Research   (https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-021-00438-5)


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