At the crossroads between education and marriage: how parental expectations, community pressure and girls’ aspirations influence decision-making on adolescent girls’ futures in South Asia

Saranga Jain, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Deepti Chavan, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Sadia Chowdhury, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Arti Joshi, Foundation For Research in Health Systems (FRHS)
Ruchira Naved, ICDDR,B: Centre for Health and Population Research
Manisha Khale, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Alka Barua, Foundation for Research in Health Systems (FRHS)

Socio-cultural norms, parental expectations, and girls’ dreams for their futures form the backdrop against which parents in South Asia decide how much to educate their daughters and when to choose further education over early marriage. This analysis focuses on how parents juggle the need to maintain family honor with girls’ own aspirations and changing trends. This collaborative study, designed jointly by four study partners, examines extensive qualitative data from three study sites: Rajasthan and Maharashtra in India, and Bangladesh (Matlab and Mirzapur). Findings suggest that there is a trade-off between marriage and education, and that parents differ in how they make decisions about their daughters’ futures. Factors that affect these decisions include poverty, social expectations, girls’ marriage prospects, access to education and employment opportunities for girls, how parents value their daughters and females in general, and how able girls are to communicate and negotiate with parents about their aspirations.

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Presented in Session 161: Gender, educational achievement and the marriage market