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Featured Conversation: Adolescent Girls' Empowerment

"Adolescence is often the moment when a girl’s potential is irrevocably lost or stolen," Jennifer and Peter Buffet recently wrote in an article arguing girls need to be safe, seen, and celebrated. With girls facing tremendous risks at this critical juncture, what evidence-based approaches should be pursued to promote skills, education, and livelihoods of adolescent girls and young women? This discussion explores dimensions of empowerment (economic, social, political), types of skills, the role of boys, and how to get adolescent girls on the policy agenda. Join moderator Shubha Chakravarty of the World Bank, and three other experts, Judith Bruce of the Population Council, Jeannie Annan of International Rescue Committee, and Mayra Buvinic of UN Foundation, in a conversation about Adolescent Girls' Empowerment.
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Shubha Chakravarty, Economist, The World Bank, moderator

Shubha Chakravarty, Economist, The World Bank

The roots of unemployment and poverty among adults in developing countries can often be traced back to obstacles encountered during adolescence. Dropping out of school, early marriage and parenthood, and engaging in risky behavior can prevent youth from achieving their potential. Young women face particular challenges during adolescence, as their educational and livelihood choices are more constrained by fertility considerations, domestic work burdens, and limited knowledge of opportunities. Social norms around women’s work and mobility as well as discrimination and gender-based violence can further prevent young women from taking up available opportunities. Adolescence offers a critical window for interventions to help young people establish a better path toward adulthood, improving not just their lives but those of their children, their families, and their communities.

With these challenges in mind, the World Bank launched the Adolescent Girl Initiative in 2008 to promote the economic empowerment of young women. To date, the Initiative has launched eight pilot projects in Liberia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Nepal, Afghanistan, Jordan, Laos, and Haiti. Each pilot offers a context-specific combination of skills training, entrepreneurship support, and complementary services to help young women succeed in the labor market. Six of the pilots include rigorous impact evaluations to measure how the programs affect economic, social, and reproductive health outcomes of participants. The evaluations lay the groundwork for evidence-based programming and policymaking on youth development and gender equality. Emerging lessons from these pilot projects show strong gains in young women’s employment, particularly in low-income settings, but we still have a lot to learn on empowerment in the non-economic dimensions of a girl’s life.

To explore the various dimensions of adolescent girls’ empowerment, we have invited several experts with a range of perspectives to kick off our conversation on what we know, and what we are still learning, about how to unleash the potential of adolescent girls and young women in the developing world today. Please join myself, Senior Economist Markus Goldstein and our three expert panelists:

  • Judith Bruce, Senior Associate and Policy Analyst, Population Council, on innovative interventions to support adolescent girls’ education, social and economic empowerment.
  • Jeannie Annan, Director of Research, Evaluation and Learning, International Rescue Committee, on research into how to best support girls education and empowerment.
  • Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow, UN Foundation, on the gender dimensions of policies to support empowerment, education and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in the developing world.

Judith Bruce, Senior Associate and Policy Analyst, Population Council, on policies related to adolescent girls’ education, social and economic empowerment.

Judith Bruce, Senior Associate and Policy Analyst, Population CouncilOne thing most people working in poverty alleviation know is that very little is reaching young women. Caught by these headlines, many institutions are putting together programs for girls based on somewhat arbitrary criteria. Though fueled by enthusiasm, this is not the best way to proceed. The basic theory of change and sifting of the data has not been used to create the plan. Indeed, the passions have overwhelmed the plan in many cases. Of course, I admire anyone who is moved by girls, but my concern is that we now use the same systematic methods that we’ve used to tackle any number of other issues. It’s not enough to be concerned about negative outcomes for girls, but to articulate a widely achievable set of benchmarks. Where should they be by age 12? Is it different than where boys should be? Yes, because they face very different challenges.

The sound foundations for adolescent girls programs include a fairly simple set of analyses. What are the factors or risks we’re trying to change in girls’ lives (being out of school during schoolgoing years, subject to child marriage)? Where are such girls concentrated? Within those communities, what’s the universe of girls? What’s the denominator for so many programs that say “I’m simply going to pick out 25 girls” without reference to the number of girls in the community and/or the particular theory of change tied to the proportions that they need to reach, with what, and for how long?

The lesson in all this is that we have the have the possibility of using the same powers of analysis, commitment, and follow-through that have been used in every other field to develop business plans for girls and get resources reliably to them. We need to find the best way to ensure that these investments build the girls enough to get them through the hard “stops”—puberty, the beginnings of sexual activity (whether voluntary or forced, as it is in many cases), marriages (which may not be fully chosen), and having children. Building a solid foundation for young females must begin earlier than for boys and be geared to passages that uniquely narrow female prospects.

I would like to see a wave of experiments over the next decade on how to build young female leadership cadres, and to carry forward national agendas to systematically chart levels of coverage of different populations (as we have certainly done in the family planning field)— to assess unmet needs, set goals, and incrementally or perhaps radically reach our girls. And of course, in line with the introduction of this online seminar, let us find the tipping point levels of investment in girls that reliably set in motion the virtuous cycle.

Jeannie Annan, Director of Research, Evaluation and Learning, International Rescue Committee, on research into how to best support girls education and empowerment.

Jeannie Annan, Director of Research, Evaluation and Learning, International Rescue CommitteeThe International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) adolescent girl empowerment programs are designed to support girls’ transition into adolescence and adulthood. The idea behind our programs is simple: as girls pass through adolescence, a number of factors play roles in influencing whether the girl will complete secondary school, avoid teenage pregnancy, and develop the life skills, attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that will set her on a path to a healthy and productive adulthood.

An important component of our programs in this area is the mentorship piece: a life skills curriculum implemented by mentors made up of young women from the local communities. The aim is to equip girls with the skills and experiences necessary to make healthy, strategic life choices and to stay safe from abuse and sexual exploitation.

We still have a lot to learn about what works best for adolescent girls, and we are committed to testing our approaches with rigorous research. We have recently started impact evaluations on adolescent girl programs in Liberia, Ethiopia, and DRC. In each case, we are evaluating either a package of interventions or a particular component, such as mentoring or working with parents. Together with partners from the World Bank, Innovations for Poverty Action, Columbia University and Population Council, we hope these evaluations help us improve our interventions in the future.

Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow, UN Foundation, on the gender dimensions of policies to support empowerment, education and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in the developing world.

Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow, UN FoundationAt the UN Foundation, we recently completed a report in collaboration with the ExxonMobil Foundation, “ A Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment”. The report examines “what works” to promote women’s economic empowerment, “for whom” – which types of women, and “where” – in which social and economic contexts.

One of the groups we considered was young women. In most of the developing world, growing levels of female school attendance, combined with low labor force participation, suggest that young women have a more difficult transition from school to work than young men. These initial disadvantages call for greater policy and program efforts focused on young women’s transition into jobs to equalize opportunities with young men.

We identified program interventions that are proven, promising, or have high potential to increase young women’s productivity and earnings by analyzing recent rigorous empirical evidence. A number of key lessons emerged:

  • For young women, demand-oriented skills, on-the-job training, vouchers and/or wage subsidies are effective in increasing employability and earnings, if social restrictions that prevent firms from hiring young female workers are not binding. These interventions can be expensive but are still cost-beneficial. Some components, such as providing job information through targeted campaigns or mobile phones, implemented on their own could be effective at much lower costs.

  • Cash grants or incentives to young women to access education increase their school attendance and may improve their schooling outcomes; cash grants with no conditions may help increase young women’s employment and income (if they are large enough) and have sizeable social benefits.

  • Livelihood programs that combine reproductive health with income generation and asset building show promising results for young women in low-income settings and in socially conservative environments, but need to be further evaluated before they can be delivered at scale.

Join the discussion! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Comments

Welcome to this conversation on "Empowering Adolescent Girls”. Thank you Mayra, Jeannie, and Judith for your introductory remarks and participating in this conversation.

I would like to extend an invitation to our clients, partners, and World Bank colleagues working on girls’ education, youth employment, skills development, as well as those who are passionate about gender and development to join this conversation on girls’ empowerment.

To begin: Adolescent girls’ empowerment spans multiple dimensions, including social, political and economic empowerment. While these dimensions are obviously inter-related, is there one that you think comes first, or stands out as the most pressing? In other words, if you could empower adolescent girls worldwide in only one dimension, which would you choose?

JudithBruce's picture

I would choose financial literacy taught in a group. Because there is high support for girls learning financial skills, it is understood to need regular attention and is a weekly activity like savings. Doing this in a group helps girls have access to other girls in a way that helps build social capital. And what girls help them see in financial literacy is that they are already carrying economic roles, and learning this within a context helps them see that the other girls around them are not just friends, but potential team members in a value chain.

JeannieAnnan's picture

I realize that I am avoiding the question a bit but my answer is that we just don't know enough to prioritize only one dimension at this point, which is the reason that our adolescent girl programs include both social and economic empowerment (less of what I would consider political). We know from some studies that just economic interventions often aren't enough to lead to (or at least correlate with) improved social empowerment for women--increased decision making power, decreased violence. We know less about these pathways or interactions for adolescent girls. This is one of the reasons the IRC is focused on testing both overall packages of interventions that include both economic and social components and also trying to understand what the components add - from mentoring to parenting to financial literacy and cash. It is also important to think about what might have the greatest impact in early adolescence versus late adolescence. So my answer is that we need to continue to focus on all dimensions but start to tease apart what works best both together and separately--both in the short term and on later life outcomes.

MayraBuvinic's picture

Behind the concept of empowerment is the ability to make informed choices. Information and knowledge, on the one hand, and an enabling environment that provides economic opportunities (access to jobs, productive resources, etc.) on the other, are basic requirements to 'empower' adolescent girls, especially in poor countries and poor households. I am reminded of the Liberia and Jordan pilots under the WB's AGI. In Liberia, the skills training and follow up job placement incentives got girls jobs and significant growth in incomes, and raised aspirations -- it must have 'empowered' them. In Jordan, instead, societal restrictions to young women's employment resulted in a similar skills training program plus incentives (a job voucher) having only a fleeting 'empowering' effect -- once the voucher was used up, firms stopped employing young women. It would be interesting to track these young Jordanian women who had and then lost jobs, to assess how the experience influenced their future opportunities/choices.

Thanks for these fascinating responses. If I understand correctly, it seems that the economic dimension of empowerment alone is not enough--- creating lasting change in girls’ lives requires an enabling environment, financial literacy skills, social capital, perhaps a whole package of interventions. We have found similar results in some of our projects under the AGI (as Mayra mentioned)-- when the intervention focuses mostly on employment, we see large gains in the economic realm (in Liberia and Nepal, for example), but not as much on the social empowerment side. Another intervention my colleagues have evaluated (BRAC’s ELA project in Uganda) focused more or less equally on life skills and livelihood skills and saw tremendous gains not just on employment but also on reproductive health and agency.

This leads me to my next question… There is growing recognition of the need to provide “life skills” training to young women. But what are “life skills” really? Life skills seem to run the gamut from workplace conduct to financial literacy, stress management, and sexual and reproductive health. When is the right age to start imparting these skills? And where is the best place to teach them—primary and secondary schools, or more informal settings like girls’ clubs or second chance programs? Are life skills better taught by trained professionals, peers, or slightly older mentors?

JudithBruce's picture

My colleagues working in Malawi have some extraordinary data that looks at life skills like being able to fill out a form, reading the newspaper regularly or getting information from radio. They show systematic differences between boys and girls. This was a sample in their late teens and early adulthood, it would be very useful to look at this over time. My own suspicion is that life skills decline with spatial movements.

The work of Kelly Hallman (http://www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/wp/pgy/025.pdf) and others on social confinement shows that a girl of 8 inhabits a much larger social space and possibly with more confidence than her sister of 15 who might have, as in the case of the South African area of KwaZulu-Natal where they were working in, 1/6 the space of a boy of the same age and about 1/3 the amount of space as a girl of 8. So life skills, I would guess, begin to decline as girls social spaces begin to get confined, as their friendships and spontaneous interactions get confined, and their feeling safe in interacting with the outside world is reduced.

I’m a firm believer that community based platforms for girls that are similar, in-school girls, out-of-school girls, married girls is the place to have them practice those skills and develop a team with whom to move through that community, as well as potentially interact more effectively in school. Such community-based platforms cannot be run by the girls themselves, though the girls can, over time, assume more leadership role, but are best taught by slightly older mentors (typically 18-30) who have some exceptional, but not rare additional skills, such as having completed secondary school.

My Colleague Kelly Hallman – without whose brilliant work in Africa and Guatamala, we'd have a much lesser knowledge of key social capital- health and economic dimensions of adolescent girls lives - will be posting simultaneously with me this week covering some questions and after Monday will be posting exclusively for us – thanks to Kelly.

DanjumaM's picture

Thank you WB for this kind of conversation and always making efforts to help fight most pressing issues around the world. The issue empowering girl child is an all encompassing in my view it include economics, social and political, but the strongest factor here is the economics or call it financials. If a girl child is educated, i.e equipped with requisite skills it will enhance her economic status and create the needed finances to sustain her livelihood.

Financials may not be enough as there are several social issues which needs to be taken care of, with regards to tradition and culture of a particular people, which prevent female from been a public figure or been exposed to the very society which she lives, if we are able to move beyond some societal norms, customs, traditions then we will have a lasting impact in the life of the adolescent.

For me as an Economist and Development expert, i will suggest taking care of cultural challenges which prevent girls from actually interacting properly in the society. For instance, in the northern part of Nigeria and most Arab countries women are not meant to be public figures, they are always enclosed inside the house, how then will you expose such to all the required skills or capacity to be self reliant and improve her financial status.

(DR.) HARUNA MOHAMMED DANJUMA,
CEO/FOUNDER, Impact Agriculture Project Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria
PHONE: +234-8036378036
EMAIL: MOHJAM2@YAHOO.COM
TWITTER: @danjay1
SKYPE: Mohammedjamiu1

JeannieAnnan's picture

I agree that life skills include many components and can mean many things to many people. I think one of the reasons for this is the recognition of the wide range of needs and skills that adolescent girls need to succeed. Along with some of the other types of life skills you mentioned, the IRC has been focusing on teaching social emotional skills--what economists often refer to as non-cognitive skills. Research in the U.S. has shown the importance of these skills for later life success. The girls we work with are affected by conflict or crisis and therefore it seems even more important that they are equipped with skills to help them recover and navigate their extremely challenging environments. In our Liberia and Kenya program and evaluation, we deliver the life skills through mentors which seems to be a very promising model. We also have a school-based curriculum for primary school that includes social emotional learning and we are testing its effectiveness in the DR Congo (although this isn't specifically for girls). While life skills can be taught at any age in adolescence, It seems critical, like teaching any behavior change, that the information and skills are developmentally appropriate and that actual skills are taught and practiced.

DanjumaM's picture

I also want to agree with the like skills approach. my concern is what are the level of awareness available with regards to the LS appraoch. How many countries around Africa and LDCs are aware of this appraoch. It will be good if its wider coverage is encourage especially in the sub-saharan Africa.

For me LS can be taught at any stage of development of the girl, however, its impact will be stronger and much more understood at secondary and late primary education level, even at imformal arrangement.

(DR.) HARUNA MOHAMMED DANJUMA,
CEO/FOUNDER, Impact Agriculture Project Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria
PHONE: +234-8036378036
EMAIL: MOHJAM2@YAHOO.COM
TWITTER: @danjay1
SKYPE: Mohammedjamiu1

MayraBuvinic's picture

I am not sure that there is either agreement on what combination of 'life skills' should be taught to adolescent girls or robust evidence that they make a difference, that they improve educational and economic outcomes for adolescent girls. But, as both Shubha and Judith Bruce point out (see above), there is growing evidence that they really matter. There is an interesting paper by James Heckman and Tim Kautz (2012) that shows that programs that enhance 'soft skills' -- i.e., personality traits, goals and motivations that are valued in the labor market -- akin to or an important component in the package of 'life skills' taught or that should be taught to adolescent girls -- yield hard evidence of lifetime economic and other benefits and have an important place in an effective portfolio of public policies. If the teaching of 'soft skills' or 'life skills' is as important and beneficial as the emerging evidence suggests, it should certainly be done well, and not left to improvisation.

I'd like to turn the conversation a bit toward vocational skills. We have faced a trade-off in the AGI between reaching younger girls on the one hand (for whom livelihood skills may not be as pressing as schooling) and focusing on livelihood skills on the other. In most of the AGI pilot programs, we targeted older girls and young women who were past the legal working age. But... when asked what type of vocational skills they would like to learn, young women often choose traditionally “female” trades like tailoring and hair-dressing, for which there often isn’t much market demand. What are some effective strategies for attracting young women to non-traditional trades? Is it even advisable to encourage young women to enter new fields where they may face disapproval or harassment?

JeannieAnnan's picture

From the IRC's programming experience, a few things seem to work to encourage girls and young women to try non-traditional routes: 1) women mentors, 2) market assessments led by adolescents, 3) groups of girls or young women together, and 4) businesses engaged in reducing risks. First, exposing young women to successful and innovative women who are doing non-traditional work is helpful in getting girls to think outside the box. We have seen this a bit in Liberia. While some of the mentors are in traditional businesses/trades they know the market and know how to encourage girls to do things that are profitable even it means doing something they are not used to doing. Second, market assessments led by youth are a good way to convince youth or young women to think and do things outside the norm—to show them what it means to do engage in the business and what might be profitable. In Sierra Leone when we first started the microfranchise pilot we identified a few potential franchise businesses such as ice distribution, fish, and top up phone credit. All the young people wanted to do business with phone credit but as we walked around the market and they saw the demand for ice and the profit margin difference between ice and top up they were sold on trying to sell ice. Youth seem largely convinced by quick impact/profit turning opportunities since they have little time to waste. Third, grouping girls or young women for training non-traditional trades/businesses can makes the difference. They encourage and support each other and try it out together. Lastly, we have found it is important to engage relevant service providers (VT center, business etc.) to develop strategies on mitigate potential risks for women and girls in the workspace.

DanjumaM's picture

A very good point raised by Shubha Chakravarty, that is female trades, it is very important to point out areas of opportunities beyond the conventional trades which females go into especially in developing countries, even though some of these trades are affected by culture and traditions forbidding females from public glare. Tailoring and hair dressing are the common ones found, but we have others such as cosmetology, ICT, beads making fashion design.

It will interest you to know that in Nigeria female are taking into unconventional trades such as driving taxes, tricycles, etc, while in Ghana, we have some who are into welding and fabrication, air conditioning and refrigeration repair. It will be good to have a way of encouraging females to look at other areas as I have stated above.

(DR.) HARUNA MOHAMMED DANJUMA,
CEO/FOUNDER, Impact Agriculture Project Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria
PHONE: +234-8036378036
EMAIL: MOHJAM2@YAHOO.COM
TWITTER: @danjay1
SKYPE: Mohammedjamiu1

Dear all, this is a very interesting conversation, and very happy to hear the echoes that economic empowerment is definitely helpful but not sufficient. This brings to mind different programs focused on youth skills development but lack the social sustainibility to make these projects long term.

However, one obstacle I find, especially in conflict contexts is the definition of adolescence. The focus is on girls who are not kids but not women yet and their needs are different. But in conflict contexts, most girls do not live an adolescent phase, they go from being kids to mothers, wives, victims of rape, etc... the adolescence phases is non esistent. Then the questions that come to mind are: (1) should adolescent interventions should take place in conflict areas? (2) If so then how are we defining adolescene? (3) are the interventions for this segment of society different than adults? (4) why should the intervention for a 17 year married women with 2 kids be different than the intervention for a 30 year old women with 2 kids? and what is the impact?

These are questions I'm currently dealing with, and would appreciate some insight... thanks.

Hi Jana,

Thanks for joining this conversation. I think your questions are right on the mark, and reflect the challenges we have faced in several of the AGI pilots. Overall, I think it's precisely because young women have had their childhood "stolen" from them by conflict, forced to become women much too soon, that there is such a need for programs that work with adolescent girls specifically in post-conflict environments. Just because a young woman is functioning as an adult woman (e.g., heading a household, raising children) doesn't mean that her adolescence is non-existent-- she still needs to undergo the social, physical, psychological, and cultural processes that define the transition to adulthood. I think it requires some adjustment of what we think of as "adolescence"-- women may still be undergoing this transition to adulthood well past the age when they might have done so in absence of the conflict.

I'm sure some of our panelists also might have useful insights to share on the topic. I also found an interesting report by the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children (from 2000) on precisely this topic, which talks about how to define adolescence for war-affected youth.

MayraBuvinic's picture

A simple, and likely effective strategy to motivate young women to go into non-traditionally female trades is to provide them with the right information, including about opportunities for training and jobs and about future earnings from non-traditional when compared to traditional occupations. Markus Goldstein and colleagues at the World Bank, in an interesting study, sponsored by the UN Foundation and the ExxonMobil Foundation, of women who 'crossed over' into non-traditional occupations, found that women who were in traditional occupations simply did not know that they were earning much less than those in non-traditional trades. Several studies suggest that information alone can play a powerful role in readying male youth for the labor market, and should play a similar role in readying female youth.

As we will be wrapping up this discussion on adolescent girls empowerment in the next couple of days, I want to thank our panel of girls' experts for their thoughtful contributions as well as the other participants who contributed comments and questions.

I also want to offer one final question for discussion. We've talked about the details of program design and the importance of empowerment in different dimensions, but the best way to affect girls' lives on a large scale is through policy change. There is a lot of focus on the “youth employment problem” in many national governments today. Much of it is driven (at least implicitly) by a fear of idle young men stirring unrest if they are not engaged in work. This narrative skips over young women’s unemployment entirely. What are some effective entry points to get young women into the youth employment dialogue at the national level?

JudithBruce's picture

One of the most senseless policies — that one would hope could be immediately corrected — is the frequent discrepancy between the legal age of fulltime work (according to I L O)— 15 years of age (safe work is allowed part-time earlier) AND the age at which a girl (or a boy) can have a savings account.

It varies very widely across countries – age 10 in Egypt thru the Post office and age 10 also In India – but is much higher in many countries.
Savings is an asset, not a contract, so children should be allowed try at early ages. It would be even better if the government established savings accounts for each child at birth. The savings rate globally is far too low and girls are natural savers but rarely have a safe place to do so or enough information to know how to set up a savings account.

So an even-handed policy, with very strong positive effects especially for girls, is age graded financial literacy and incubator saving at the youngest ages possible — a fantastic individual learning and social reengineering tool!

Schooling is doing a very insufficient job of preparing girls for decent work — indeed may undermine the message that girls should expect to support themselves and their children, very often single handed. Some girls and families see education as primarily an investment in marriagebility.

Girls should start in late childhood — early adolescence with financial literacy and incubator savings groups with all the other inputs: health, intentional social capital formation, naturally built in weekly meetings. Parents understand the necessarily repetitive nature of this activity — having to go to your saving group once a week is “normal.”

Habitual participation in all-girl group is, by itself, an enormous value (builds a basis for protection from unsafe/forced sexual relations and for claiming health and legal rights) and savings with Financial Literacy are huge assists to prepare girls for decent work, helping them make realistic and more confident livelihood choices, and building female value chains.

Formal schooling still does not incorporate this content or consciousness and, as my Colleagues found in Malawi, after school completion, girls “delearn’ at a markedly faster rate than boys.

I think community based platform, all-girl financial literacy and incubator savings by age 10 should be a universal policy, and we are incorporating this approach in all programs and several programs are scaling in Africa.

JUDITH BRUCE

@Emachi's picture

Dear Shubha and all,

This platform is a good initiative to raise the bar about issues of empowerment and more especially the participation of young women in national employment policy dialogues. The final question goes right into these perspectives and is fundamental in many ways. For instance, the relevance and access to different choices for young girls cannot only be made possible through the sole implementation of laws and policies. I believe that to gradually move away from the codified structures of exclusion, it is important to re-calibrate the concept of social inclusion addressing for example the complex working of identity to isolate the roots of certain discrimination and inequalities. In a nutshell, we are talking about the integration of adaptive policies and community-based interventions that can challenge the status-quo shifting the outcomes of some institutional barriers in relation to the acquisition of self-esteem, non-cognitive skills, and acceptance, future expectations and job satisfaction for young women.

Emmanuel

Emmanuel Asomba
UN WOMEN Knowledge Gateway for Women's Economic Empowerment
Policy-Makers Persona Team
http://www.empowerwomen.org/

DanjumaM's picture

I think the best way is continued advocacy by various women groups and CSOs. I am aware that in Nigeria women and young girl voices are becoming stronger, united and focused at getting space in every aspect of life including employment dialogues. Thank you.

(DR.) HARUNA MOHAMMED DANJUMA,
CEO/FOUNDER, Impact Agriculture Project Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria
PHONE: +234-8036378036
EMAIL: MOHJAM2@YAHOO.COM
TWITTER: @danjay1
SKYPE: Mohammedjamiu1

MomohJimoh Yussuff Onipe's picture

Many thanks for this timely discussion on "Empowering Adolescent Girls” issues.
Going straight to your last question first before highlighting our activities in regards to your previous discussion.
“I am glad to inform all that Kano state government has taken over the monetary aspect of the programme by agreeing to be pay the monthly salary/allowances of the facilitators we engaged. The training organised by Kano Mass Literacy Agency for all the Mass Literacy Schools in Kano ended today 30/03 /2014. Our facilitators also partake in the training free of charge.
The first set of our students wrote the Basic Literacy exams last week, the agency moderated and are now marking the questions hence certificate will also be provided to them by the agency. This will be used to secure permanent employment especially after the post literacy programme. Registration for post Literacy programme have commenced immediately in our centre”. In my opinion this is the option we have available in Kano State of Nigeria for girls to secure permanent emploments.

I will like to share our organisation's experience with WB and her inspirational team.
We registered as a National NGO in Nigeria in year 2011 to focus in improving education of children, empower youth and women and sensitize and advocate for implementation of their policies.
When we started in Okene Local government Area of Kogi State, central region of Nigeria we had little set back that needed lots of sensitization of people to accept that the intension of the initiator was not for political gain but to improve the standard of education that is decreasing. We had issues of boys and girls drop out alongside with the high poverty rate in the area. At last the programme is accepted; so far in the three batch of extra moral classes we organised in 2011, 2012 and 2013 the least participation of boys and girls was 1, 650 children in 2013. We have also succeeded in engaging some of these children/youths in skills acquisition in our centre in Okene, some have graduated and discussion is on-going with Government agency on modality to use in empowering them economically especially the idle once.

Reverse is the case in Kano, Northern part of Nigeria with lots of Encouragement from the present Government. We realised that the most needed intervention in the region/area is economic empowerment which again we believe that is not sustainable in the long run without basic education thus creating room for Adult classes where men, women and especially the idle girls were taught basic literacy subjects like Arithmetic, Hausa, Simple English and Islamic Knowledge.
We started with the men, gave them lots of sensitization on importance of Education to themselves, their wives and the teenage girls and boys.
I am glad to inform all that Kano state government has taken over the monetary aspect of the programme by agreeing to be pay the monthly salary/allowances of the facilitators. The training organised by Kano Mass Literacy Agency for all the Literacy Schools in Kano ended today 30/03 /2014. Our facilitators also partake in the training free of charge.
The first set of our students wrote the Basic Literacy exams last week, the agency moderated and are now marking the questions hence certificate will also be provided to them by the agency. This will be used to secure permanent employment especially after the post literacy programme. Registration for post Literacy programme have commenced immediately in our centre.

Momoh Jimoh Yussuff Onipe
Chairman/CEO
Avabe Initiative for Community Development, Nigeria
+234 806 5528 826
www.avabe-initiative.org; avabeinitiative@gmail.com

MayraBuvinic's picture

It is indeed unfortunate that idle young men continue to define the policy concern with youth employment, especially in post-conflict environments, when the numbers show that the majority of the 'idle' in low income countries, those who do not transition successfully between school and the job market, are young women, not young men. More and better gender disaggregated data on the transition between school and the workplace is a major entry point for getting a concern with young women in the youth employment policy dialogue. Another is changing the conceptualization of youth employment from a problem to an opportunity for national development.

Amina Semlali's picture

Thank you all for a very interesting conversation. It is indeed pivotal that adolescent girls are given the opportunity to study and acquire relevant labor market skills. If they later choose to join the labor force, they should be frowned upon.

I was wondering if you have any good experiences to share in regards to changing societal perceptions and norms surrounding what and what not an adolescent girl is expected to do etc? Any experiences with edutainment? Using radio/TV soap operas to highlight an issue/change attitudes/achieve behavioral changes?

Thank you!

Amina Semlali
International Development & Communications Specialist

MomohJimoh Yussuff Onipe's picture

I agree that while looking into adolescent girl educational development towards achieving self reliance issues of attitudinal change must be visited. This usually is carried along under sensitization. In our organization for instance, we use jingles and radio programmes to pool women and girls for our literacy and empowerment programmes in Kano, Nigeria but these method is very expensive In the long run. So we had to complement these with a designed activity where our students are mandated to talk to at least two to three new women, girls and even men every week on what we do and what they learn from our programmes.

Momoh Jimoh Yussuff Onipe
Chairman/CEO
Avabe Initiative for Community Development, Nigeria
+234 806 5528 826
www.avabe-initiative.org; avabeinitiative@gmail.com

@Emachi's picture

There is an interesting approach taken in the Dominican Republic and piloted by the World Bank. It is called "Juventud y Empleo." The innovative part of this program is the combination of soft-skills training and internships to strengthen the behavioral adaptation of young girls and build up new social norms in their communities. The intervention addresses self-exclusion, targeting its root causes, then building up awareness about job satisfaction and future expectations for young girls in their respective environments. You can find a link below, however, the video is in Spanish. It is a presentation of the program evaluation by Laura Ripani of the IDB.

Here: http://youtu.be/W9fvIAROxq8

Emmanuel Asomba
UN WOMEN Knowledge Gateway for Women's Economic Empowerment
Policy-Makers Persona Team
http://www.empowerwomen.org/

Hi Emmanuel-- Thanks for your contributions to this discussion. The Juventud y Empleo impact evaluation is a good example of the type of labor market evaluations that we need more of. An ungated version of an earlier evaluation of this program is available here .

@Emachi's picture

Hello Shuba,

I also wrote a two pages policy brief on Juventud y Empleo, and as soon as available for dissemination, I can certainly post its link on the platform. Many thanks again, this is a good avenue to share information.

Emmanuel Asomba
UN WOMEN Knowledge Gateway for Women's Economic Empowerment
Policy-Makers Persona Team
http://www.empowerwomen.org/

Hi Amina,

Thanks for joining this conversation. I don't know of any examples of using mass media to change norms/ expectations for adolescent girls, but here's a recent paper on using edutainment for financial education in South Afica. It seems a ripe area in which more work is starting to be done.

jfinlayson's picture

Thanks for sharing this paper and the evidence about "the economic impact of financial education messages on debt management delivered through a popular television soap opera in South Africa." Those who watched the soap opera with financial messages, "Scandal!", "had significantly higher financial knowledge of the issues highlighted in the soap opera storyline,...were almost twice more likely to borrow from formal sources, less likely to engage in gambling, and less prone to enter hire purchase agreements." And as this discussion showed, just the knowledge that less conventional jobs paid more had a large influence on career choices for adolescent girls.

I also saw this report by WHO on Changing cultural and social norms that support violence, (http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/norms.pdf) which called out mass media campaigns like the Choose Respect campaign in the US targeting 11 to 14-years-olds, "an age group whose members are still forming attitudes and beliefs that will affect how they are treated and treat others"; and the use of another television soap opera, (edutainment), in South Africa to address social norms around intimate partner violence, date rape and sexual harassment.

The report summarized factors that seem to contribute to the success of mass media campaigns including "messages about legal penalties for non-compliant behaviour, fresh information (i.e. a new recommended behaviour to solve a health problem) and reaching a large proportion of the intended audience (62). In addition, success is more likely if messages are tailored to audiences using social marketing principles and creating a supportive environment that enables the intended audience to make changes – e.g. by mobilizing communities in support of the campaign (68). To develop effective campaigns, it is also important to use research, such as interviews with key stakeholders and focus groups with members of the target audience, to determine existing attitudes and beliefs and ways of motivating people to change their behaviour (69). Campaign messages should also be pre-tested among target audiences to ensure they are understood correctly and to minimize any unintended negative effects on other audiences (69)."

And here is an example from 2008 of an impact evaluation of a program to use a soap opera in Nicaragua to address violence against women, gender, sexuality and rights.

MomohJimoh Yussuff Onipe's picture

For us at Avabe Initiative, as earlier pointed out could only use media for awareness campaign due to high cost. However, we devoted in a month 6 hours for general counselling on Health and social (empowerment) and right issues. In view of this interesting discussions, i think the need to increase the number of days in a month is begining to arise hence we will work on these specific issues of violence against women, gender and sexuality in addition to rights and other issues we already have in place.
Kudos to WB- Striking Poverty, Shubha and other organisers for this great job.

Momoh Jimoh Yussuff Onipe
Chairman/CEO
Avabe Initiative for Community Development, Nigeria
+234 806 5528 826
www.avabe-initiative.org; avabeinitiative@gmail.com