Many adolescents in Ethiopia face difficulties in successfully transitioning to healthy adulthood. This can stem from challenges experienced by two unique phenomenon: ‘early adulthood’ where adolescents are forced into adult responsibilities too early; and ‘waithood’ where adolescents are unable to obtain the foundations they need to successfully move into adulthood. This paper uses the lens of these two opposing challenges to explore adolescents’ ability to successfully transition into adulthood and examine how far social policies support these transitions. It uses qualitative and quantitative data from the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) study on adolescents and young adults, their caregivers and key informants, from diverse rural, urban and pastoralist settings in Ethiopia. Our findings show that adolescent transitions are impacted by a range of diverse barriers with high levels of unsupported adolescents facing early adulthood or waithood. As such, we find that adolescents are being failed by social policies at each end of the spectrum. Social policies could provide a foundation to support these adolescents, yet we find that many are insufficiently age-disaggregated to take into account their diverse needs. In order to appropriately support these individuals in transitioning to healthy adulthood, social policies need to be targeted at adolescents throughout each stage of their transition. Furthermore, such comprehensive age- and gender-responsive social protection should be complemented with wider programming, such as awareness building, skills training, and adolescent-friendly health and mental health services.
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The authors wish to thank Paul May for his copy-editing work.
GAGE is a longitudinal research programme funded by Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) as part of UK Aid.
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Devonald, M., Jones, N., Hamory, J. et al. Betwixt and Between: Adolescent Transitions and Social Policy Lacunae in Ethiopia. Childhood Vulnerability (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41255-021-00016-1