UN researchers explore Nigerian women’s experiences of under-16 marriage

Date 13.11.2015

Two University of Northampton psychologists, Dr Jane Callaghan and Dr Lisa Fellin from the School of Social Sciences, and former Master’s student Yaganama Gambo, have had a paper published in the Feminism and Psychology journal.

The research, a study of Nigerian women’s experiences of marriage under 16, drew on qualitative interviews with six Nigerian women from Sokoto state. The women who took part in the study were all married between the ages of 8 and 15. The interviews explored the young women’s experiences of the transition to marriage, being married, pregnancy and their understanding of the parental and marital role.

Dr Jane Callaghan explained: “While there’s a lot of ‘moral panic’ about violence against women and girls in Northern Nigeria, there’s remarkably little research been done directly with girls themselves. Our study is small scale, but involves detailed interviews with young women, about their experiences of being married very young. We explored with women what it was like for them to be married, in a cultural context where marriage under the age of 16 is quite a normal and everyday experience.”

Dr Callaghan and Dr Fellin’s co-author, Yaganama Gambo, was a student on the MSc Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) programme at the University of Northampton, when she conducted the interviews that underpin the study. Yaganama was an international student, and she felt it was important to use the skills she acquired in Northampton to do some research that would really make a difference, in her home country of Nigeria. Since graduating, Ms Gambo has returned to Nigeria, where she now works in local government.

The research was published on 24 July in the Feminism & Psychology journal, published by Sage. The journal provides an international forum for debate at the interface of feminisms and psychologies.

The research will shortly be available via NECTAR. For further information or to request a copy, contact Dr Jane Callaghan.