Kimberly Howe and Elizabeth Stites discuss life after early marriage in displacement

Since 2019, Kimberly Howe and Elizabeth Stites have been working on a cohort study that provides a rare and holistic view into the lives of female youth living in displacement and early marriage. In real time, this study observes how decisions are made, how female youth respond to shocks, and how they cope with challenging life circumstances. The design allows them to support policies and humanitarian programs continuously.

In early 2023, Kimberly and Elizabeth went to the Kurdish Region of Iraq to have workshops with 35 young women and girls in refugee and internal displacement camps. They sought to support them in identifying the main issues they face, coping strategies they rely on, and potential solutions to the problems.

The workshop attendees were among the participants in a larger 18-to-24 month study called Leave No One Behind (LNOB), a joint effort of Feinstein’s research on Early Marriage in Conflict and Displacement and  Save the Children Denmark. Many of the 35 workshop attendees were married (mostly as minors), widowed, or divorced. Some had resisted pressure to marry and remained single. All were either Syrian or Yazidi (a marginalized Kurdish-speaking group against which ISIS essentially waged genocide). The information from the workshops will be used to inform Save the Children Denmark’s programming.

Kimberly and Elizabeth recently spoke with Tuft Now about this work.