Katrina Kiss

Thesis Title: Understanding child marriage amongst girls with disabilities in Zimbabwe: Implications for an intersectional and gender transformative approach to child marriage programming and policy

Abstract: Child marriage, defined as any informal or formal marriage or union where one or both parties are under 18, is a form of gender-based violence (GBV) that violates the life trajectories and rights of girls worldwide. Each year 12 million girls are married. Eastern and Southern Africa is home to 55 million girls who were married during childhood, including 1.4 million in Zimbabwe. Influenced by harmful social and gender norms, child marriage is a complex practice that perpetuates gender inequality and discrimination, placing girls and women at a disadvantage to fully embodying their life goals, living a life free of violence and securing their rights. Despite the growing evidence base on child marriage and awareness of the vulnerability of disabled girls to GBV, there is a notable evidence gap on the intersection of child marriage and disability. In Zimbabwe, there is no clear understanding of the specific risks disabled girls face or what their needs are in relation to marriage, and whether they are falling through the cracks within efforts to respond to and end the practice.

The study will address this gap by investigating the risk and protective factors which shape disabled girls’ experiences of child marriage in Zimbabwe, including support services that are required. The project will be guided by critical engagement with Feminist methodology (including feminist disability research) and will employ qualitative girl-led participatory methods.

This work is being undertaken in partnership with Rozaria Memorial Trust (Zimbabwe) and the Women’s Refugee Commission (US/Global). The findings will promote intersectional and girl-centred approaches within child marriage programming and advocacy initiatives at community, national, regional and global levels. This study aims elevate the voices of girls who are not meaningfully included within child marriage discourse through generating research that champions their representation and participation in ending the practice.

First Supervisor: Dr Aisha Hutchinson

Publications: Metzler, J., Hutchinson, A. and Kiss, K, 2023. (in press). Setting research priorities for prevention and response to child marriage in communities in the Arab region: findings from a multi-stage Delphi study involving practitioners across the region. Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters. https://doi.org/10.1080/26410397.2023.2275840

Driscoll, J., Hutchinson, A., Lorek, A., Stride, C. and Kiss, K., 2022. Multiagency safeguarding arrangements during and beyond the Covid‐19 pandemic: Identifying shared learning. Child Abuse Review, e2774. https://doi.org/10.1002/car.2774

Driscoll, J., Hutchinson, A., Lorek, A., Kiss, K. and Kinnear, E., 2021. Hearing the Voice of the Child through the Storm of the Pandemic: The Impact of covid-19 Measures on the Detection of and Response to Child Protection Concerns. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 29(2), pp.400-425. https://doi.org/10.1163/15718182-29020005

‘Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings: Integrating the Response to Child Marriage’: https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/research-resources/resource-hub-integrating-the-response-to-child-marriage-in-east-africa-initiative/