The gendered socialization of very young adolescents in schools and sexual and reproductive health

Project Period

January 2018

Project Partners

  • Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population (ISSP) in Burkina Faso
  • Academy for Health Development/Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria

Adolescents in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly those in low-income urban settlements, are at significant risk for poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes. Most interventions aimed at improving adolescent SRH have focused on older adolescents aged 15-19 years, often neglecting very young adolescents aged 10-14 years, whose emerging sexuality can determine future SRH.

In this study, we will investigate schools as sites for the gendered socialization of very young adolescents in relation to SRH issues; generate evidence on what works to change norms and advance very young adolescents’ SRH at scale; and facilitate the broader uptake of approaches that can foster positive gender norms and improve SRH outcomes in early and later adolescence and adulthood.

The study, which will be conducted in three countries (Burkina Faso and Nigeria in West Africa and Kenya in East Africa), builds on a strong collaborative partnership between three institutions: Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population (ISSP) in Burkina Faso, Academy for Health Development (AHEAD)/Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Nigeria, and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Kenya. These institutions have long-standing collaborations in both research and capacity building initiatives, including the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS), an international study led by Johns Hopkins University and the World Health Organization to understand the factors in early adolescence that drive sexual health risks and promote healthy sexuality among young people.

The cross-cultural nature of our study, which includes perspectives from West and East Africa, provides a unique opportunity to identify and assess low-cost interventions that can be implemented in schools in a range of settings in sub-Saharan Africa to foster positive gender norms among very young adolescents and improve SRH outcomes in later adolescence and adulthood while enhancing south-south collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Project Funders

  • Project Funder



Associate Research Scientist

Beatrice Maina

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Michelle Mbuthia

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