Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program
The Council is developing solutions for vulnerable adolescent girls in Zambia, who need tools to help them avoid early marriage, STIs and HIV, and unwanted pregnancy.
Social isolation, economic vulnerability, and lack of access to health care are critical problems that prevent healthy transitions from girlhood into womanhood for vulnerable adolescent girls in Zambia. They often are at high risk of gender-based violence, unintended pregnancy, and HIV. Many drop out of school, are unable to find employment, lack the ability to make independent decisions, and are not being reached by existing programs for young people.
To improve these outcomes, the Council is implementing and evaluating the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program, which will improve girls’ social, health, and economic resources so that they can stay in school longer; avoid early marriage; delay sexual activity; and prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV, and other STIs.
The program will provide 10,000 girls in rural and urban Zambia with:
- Health and financial education and life skills during weekly girls group meetings led by young women from the community;
- Girl-friendly individual savings accounts that will be developed in partnership with a Zambian financial institution; and
- Health vouchers entitling girls to health services provided by facilities in the community.
A pilot test of the intervention began in May 2012.
In conjunction with overseeing the program activities, Council researchers are also managing a rigorous four-year evaluation of the program. Program participants will be compared with a control group through surveys that measure self-esteem, social networks, attitudes and behaviors related to gender, work and savings activity, sexual and reproductive health knowledge, and sexual behavior. As part of the data collection for the study, girls will be tested for exposure to HIV and herpes where appropriate and with their consent and that of their parents. Data collection for the evaluation will begin in May 2013.
Program and research findings will be shared with a wide range of policymakers and program managers from the public, private, and NGO sectors. From the start, the program is working with government partners in Zambia, for-profit entities (i.e., banks and voucher agencies), and NGO partners, as well as in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, so that best practices from the program can be shared as widely as possible. The goal is for holistic, asset building programming to be made available to all vulnerable girls in Zambia and more widely in the region.
Banner photo by Natalie Jackson, courtesy of the Population Council.
Financial education curriculum for the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program (AGEP) (PDF)
Publication date: 2013
Health and life skills curriculum for the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program (AGEP) (PDF)
Publication date: 2013
Poverty, Gender, and Youth
Duration: 11/2011 - 10/2017
UK Department for International Development