Key Points

  • Educational attainment of young women in Nigeria has increased in all parts of the country since 1990, but levels and trends vary widely across regions; by 2003, the proportion of women aged 15–19 having some secondary education ranged from 17% in the North West to 78% in the South East.
  • The proportion of young women living in urban areas has risen in all regions except the South West. n The prevalence of marriage among female adolescents declined in Nigeria, from 39% to 33%, between 1990 and 2003. As of the latter year, early marriage was far more common in the North East and North West regions (59–73%) than in the southern regions (3–10%).
  • Early childbearing is also declining but still common: In 2003, almost one in three women aged 20–24 had had a child by age 18. n Use of modern contraceptives among sexually active female adolescents has increased in most parts of the country but remains extremely low. Nationally, the proportion using modern methods doubled from 4% in 1990 to 8% in 2003. It is far higher in the South South and South West (26–39%) than in other regions.
  • Nearly one-third of sexually active women aged 15–24 had an unmet need for modern contraceptives in 2003. n Government policies and strategies promoting the sexual and reproductive health of young people in Nigeria have not been successfully carried out.
  • International, national and local nongovernmental organizations are implementing programs to promote the reproductive health of Nigerian youth. n Improving the sexual and reproductive health of young people will require coordination of disparate efforts; financial commitment on the part of the federal and state governments; and consideration of the varying religious, sociocultural, familial and educational circumstances of adolescents in Nigeria.