The High Cost of Early Adulthood for Adolescent Mothers: A Call for Reorientation of Social Norms in Eswatini

  • Nyawo Sonene University of Eswatini
Keywords: Teenage pregnancy, Patriarchy, Marriage, Reorientation, Identity


Cases of teenage pregnancies are most acute in developing nations. UNFPA (2018) reports that 20 000 girls below the age of 18 give birth every day, and they miss opportunities for personal development. Furthermore, they experience social rejection because they have contravened cultural norms by falling pregnant before marriage. Many girls pay even a higher price as latest research reveals that pregnancy and childbirth are now a leading cause of death for females at the ages of 15-19 in developing countries, as about 70 000 die each year (UNFPA 2018). Premised on broader sociological and feminist analysis of social norms, the paper argues that socialisation in patriarchal spaces train women to fit into an already prescribed society from which they draw their identity. They learn to understand themselves in terms of patriarchal super-ordination and subordination of being in the centre or being on the margin. Contravening social norms has lifetime repercussions, which include loss of the socially constructed identity. Teenage mothers therefore have a high price to pay for falling pregnant before marriage. The paper further calls for the reorientation of both injunctive and descriptive norms so that they become accommodative and self-empowering to young women.