Founded 80 years ago, Plan International is one of the oldest and largest children’s centered development and humanitarian organisation in the world. We work in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty particularly those who are excluded or marginalized with high quality programs that deliver long lasting benefits by increasing its income, working in partnership with others and operating effectively. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.
Plan International purpose statement “We strive for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls”.

We engage people and partners to:

  • Empower children, young people and communities to make vital changes that tackle the root causes of discrimination against girls, exclusion and vulnerability.
  • Drive change in practice and policy at local, national and global levels through our reach, experience and knowledge of the realities children face.
  • Work with children and communities to prepare for and respond to crises and to overcome adversity.
  • Support the safe and successful progression of children from birth to adulthood.
    Plan International core values are:
  • We strive for lasting impact
  • We are open and accountable
  • We work well together
  • We are inclusive and empowering

1.1 About the 18+ Centre of Excellence

The 18+ Centre of Excellence (CoE) on Ending Child Marriage, and Teenage Pregnancy is Plan International’s Middle East,Eastern and Southern Africa (MEESA) regional hub for ending Child, Early, and Forced marriage (CEFM) programmes as well as a shared service providing expertise for programming and evidence-based influencing to end CEFM, and teenage pregnancy in the region.
The CoE implements multi-country ending CEFM projects, facilitates processes for sharing and learning to scale up best practices. Further the 18+ CoE mobilises expertise from a network of internal and external professionals to provide support that enables 15 Plan International Country Offices and partner organisations in MEESA region of Middle to design and implement programmes, influencing strategies that address CEFM, and Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR).

The 18+ CoE is hosted by Plan International Zambia in Lusaka and was set up in July 2018. The current focus of the CoE is to scale up ending child marriage programmes from in all the 15 countries in MEESA by building capacities of Plan staff and partners as well as providing programming tools, and leading regional influencing and research activities that benefit countries.


Despite global declines in rates of child marriage, an estimated one in five women worldwide are married as children. More than half of the girls from the poorest families in the developing world are married. According to UNICEF data, child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, and six countries (South Sudan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda) with the highest prevalence of CEFM in the world are in Eastern and Southern African region. The drivers of child marriage in the region are common and include social norms, gender inequality, poverty, inconsistent and weak legislation including polices .
Despite a steady decline in some countries in the region for example from 42 percent to 31 percent over seven years in Zambia, the rates are still very high in many countries.
However, the impact of COVID 19 is likely to reverse this progress recorded in the past few years. The effects of the global pandemic will impact negatively on planned efforts to end child marriage resulting in an additional 13 million child marriages taking place that otherwise would not have occurred between 2020 and 2030.
CEFM is a violation of children’s rights and denies children (especially girls) an opportunity to realise their full potential. Child marriages affect how young women and men’s lives unfold — shortening their childhoods, limiting their education and economic opportunities, and subjecting them to social isolation and vulnerability to violence.
CEFM also affects boys, but to a far lesser degree than girls. Data on the number of boys affected by child marriage is scarce, but data from 2016 suggests that in nine countries, more than 10 per cent of boys are married before age 18. CEFM is driven by issues of gender inequality and compounds the impact of poverty. This results in the loss of educational and economic opportunities for girls and women and limits the power that they have in a wider range of matters.
Girls who marry are not only denied their childhood, they are often socially isolated – cut off from family and friends and other sources of support.
Teenage pregnancy is also a major social and health issue which can cause severe issues for both adolescent mothers and children. According to UNFPA, 7.3 million girls in developing countries become pregnant before the age of 18 each year. Early childbearing increases health risks for both mothers and children. The impacts of CEFM and teenage pregnancy are thus physical, psychological and emotional as well as social and economic.
Research has shown that the underlying factors that contribute to CEFM and teenage pregnancy are complex and inter-related and have different dynamics in every context. For instance, poverty denies girls the ability to stay in school and delay marriage while at the same time hinders access to SRHR services such as contraception, resulting in high teenage pregnancy and consequently high CEFM prevalence in some contexts. Ending child, early and forced marriage and teen pregnancy requires work across all sectors and at all levels. It requires understanding the complex drivers behind the practices in different contexts in order to adapt interventions.
In the last seven years countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Egypt, Zimbabwe, and Zambia have developed and launched national policies, strategies and costed national action plans to end child marriage. By 2019 Malawi, Kenya, and Sudan were still in the process of developing their national strategies to end child marriage.
The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary (SADC-PF) has moved into action to provide regional programmatic and legislative guidance to countries as they design laws and strategies to end child marriage through the development (2016) of the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protection of those Already in Marriage.


Important progress has been made in understanding the drivers of child marriage and what it takes to address child, early and forced marriage (CEFM), including the social norms that contribute to it. However, we know that there is a gap between the policy landscape and understanding social norms that drive the practice. This research will therefore, explore how policies and social norms interact, and focus on identifying social norms related to adolescent sexuality and access to SRHR information and services that drive CEFM in communities, where there is high prevalence of CEFM.


The purpose of this research is to generate evidence to inform quality programme and policy interventions that are gender transformative, to address harmful social norms related to adolescent sexuality within Plan International´s work on CEFM. These programmes will also support young people, their families, community leaders, Plan staff, and other key government stakeholders to transform behaviours/practices.
Therefore, this research will seek to understand the interaction between policies and social norms related to control of adolescent sexuality, the reference groups for the norms, as well as sanctions and rewards for disobeying and obeying the norms respectively.


1. What is the policy landscape in each target country, and how is this communicated?
2. How effective are current policies in addressing social norms that contribute to child marriage in communities where there is high prevalence of CEFM?
3. What are the social norms at community level which contribute to child marriages, particularly related to adolescent sexuality and access to SRHR for adolescents in each target country?
4. Who are the reference groups that sustain the norms?
5. What are the sanctions for defying the norms, and conversely what are the rewards for upholding the norms? Who benefits from the system?
6. What existing social norms, behaviours and attitudes related to adolescent sexuality can be promoted to discourage the practice of CEFM?

The primary users of the research will be Plan International staff at global, regional and especially country level. Other audiences include policy makers in the region, young activists campaigning to end child marriage, communities and traditional leaders, various partners working to end CEFM such as Civil Society Organisations, Corporate institutions, research/academic institutions, and the UN Family.

The consultant(s)/ researcher(s) is expected to propose a methodology for data collection and analysis, but broadly the approach will be qualitative and quantitative to include desk review, data collection through key informants and focus group discussions (FGDs) derived from the target population (girls, boys, parents, caregivers, religious/traditional leaders, traditional initiators, Faith Based Organisations) and other strategic institutions such as Civil Society organisations working to ending CEFM, including governments.
The consultant(s)/ researcher(s) is expected to propose the sample size and sampling methods in identifying and selecting the target respondents and locations in MEESA. A good mix and sub-regional representation of three countries representing the three sub-regional block (Mozambique, Uganda, and Ethiopia). In each targeted country, the research will be conducted in one province with the high prevalence of CEFM covering at least three districts.

The consultant(s)/ researcher(s) shall seek the information and views on current situation regarding policy, social norms and practices on CEFM from girls, boys, women and men, community members and traditional authorities in the project region. Furthermore the consultant shall involve relevant public authorities during the study.

Plan International is committed to ensuring that the rights of those participating in data collection or analysis are respected and protected, in accordance with Ethical MERL Framework and our Global Policy on Safeguarding Children and Young People. All applicants should include details in their proposal on how they will ensure ethics and child protection in the data collection process. Specifically, the consultant(s) shall explain how appropriate, safe, non-discriminatory participation of all stakeholders will be ensured and how special attention will be paid to the needs of children and other vulnerable groups. The consultant(s) shall also explain how confidentiality and anonymity of participants will be guaranteed. The consultant is expected to submit for ethical approval by Plan International Ethical Committee or another relevant local ethics committee. Please note, Plan International Ethical Committee usually takes two weeks to provide clearance.


– Inception Report or Research Protocol including:

  • an overview of available literature on the topic / a literature review
  • an updated timeline;
  • detailed methodology, including draft sampling methodology and sample size;
  • draft data collection tools;
  • ethical considerations;
  • consent forms for any primary data collection;
  • (draft) methods for data analysis;
  • Brief justification of the methods and techniques to be used (including relevant underlying values and assumptions/ theories) with a justification of the selections made (e.g. number of persons be interviewed).

– Approval from an ethical review body, or written justification of why this is not needed
– Draft Research Report
– Final Research Report as outlined below

1. Forward
2. Executive summary
3. Introduction
4. Methodology
4.1 Research methodology
4.2 Research limitations
5. Key findings
6. Recommendations

  • Discussion, research and guidance needed on strategies in relation to changing adolescent harmful sexuality social norms
  • Recommendations for programme implementers
  • Recommendations for researchers
  • Recommendation for funders
  • Recommendations for advocates and young activists

7. Case studies
8. Annexes

  • Final Data Collection Tools
  • Final Sampling methodology (including unit of sampling and sampling frame) and size
  • Cleaned Data (including data files), transcripts of qualitative data, syntax/ code books etc.)
  • Completed Consent Forms (including for children and their caregivers and adults)
  • Other Communication Products for Dissemination, as required

9. A journal article developed and published


The table below outlines what we assess as an estimated reasonable amount of time for this work to be done within the budget available and is subject to change in negotiation with the consultant(s)/ researcher(s). This work must be completed by April 2021. Penalties will be incurred for delays
Activity Days of work (estimate) Month (tentative)
Inception 5 days December 2020
Ethical approval 1 day December 2020
Desk review of external evidence 15 days January 2021
Methodology Design and Tool Design 10 days January 2021
Preparation meetings with country teams 5 days January- Feb 2021
Country data collection 15 days (including in country travel) Feb – 2020
Final report draft (allowing for three rounds of comments) 10 days Feb – March 2021
Development and submission of journal article for publishing 5 days March – April 2021
*These days can be discussed with the successful candidate and are adjustable across the different tasks.

The consultant(s)/ researcher(s) shall lead the field data gathering and is expected to propose a budget that covers all related costs for the study including taxes.
Given the COVID-19 travel restrictions there will be no international travel in conducting this research. The consultant(s) / researcher (s) are advised to devise remote methods of working including having in-country contact(s) in research targeted countries who can travel locally to engage in physical data gathering where this might be possible.
Plan International will support the consultant(s)/researcher(s) in making appointments with research participants during data collection.

a) Post graduate degree or PhD preferably in Social Sciences, Gender Studies Development Studies, must have extensive experience in research
b) Strong experience in carrying out research in the area of ending child marriage, children’s rights including in Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR) issues.
c) Strong technical knowledge and practical field experience in gender equality, social norm change, including in children’s rights and gender transformation approaches.
d) Strong grasp of current thinking and approaches within the development sector with respect to gender-sensitive, gender-responsive and gender-transformative approaches.
e) Experience of rights-based approaches for inclusive programming and influencing
f) Experience in qualitative data collection and participatory research methods
g) Proven experience of working on multi-country evaluations and/or research
h) Excellent verbal and written communications skills in English, French and Portuguese.
9. Applications

All applicants should provide a proposal covering the following aspects:

  • Detailed response to the TOR
  • Proposed methodology
  • Ethics and child safeguarding approaches, including any identified risks and associated mitigation strategies
  • Proposed timelines
  • CVs
  • Example of previous work
  • Detailed budget, including daily fee rates, expenses, etc.
  • Police Certificates of Good Conduct – especially where there is primary data collection

Please send your applications to [email protected] cc:[email protected] by 30th November 2020. Only those who meet the requirements will be contacted. The assignment will be managed by the 18+ Centre of Excellence on Ending Child Marriage in Middle East, Eastern and Southern Africa located in Lusaka Zambia together with a research reference group that will be constituted at a later stage.

To apply for this job email your details to