I would like to thank Sadia for inviting the Population Council to be part of this esteemed panel. The Council has been part of the adolescent agenda for some time – really starting in the 1990s … What prompted our work in this area? Typical approach was “Junior family planning” – yet they need so much more. Density of transitions that happen during this time (10-19). Massive change – biological, social, in terms of roles, often geographic movement (we often call the period “demographically dense.”)Call attention to the diversity of experiences within this group often referred to as “youth.” No one program that is appropriate to youth. Those that exist tended to be places such as youth centers, dominated by older males. Assumption that everyone who needed to be reached could and would walk in the door. A particular role of the Council has been to identify the particular challenges faced by adolescent girls … In just about every community you think of … imagine pre-pubescent girls and boys running freely in the community. What happens when puberty hits?
When we started with our work, adolescents, and particularly adolescent girls were largely invisible in the policy and program debates, just as they were in many villages and families. So one objective has been to get them onto the development agenda.
UNICEF. Worked closely with them on conference in April 2010: “Adolescent Girls – Cornerstone of Society: Building Evidence and Policies for Inclusive Societies.” Look to Council on Early marriage issues …UNFPA.We provide technical assistance to their country offices on adolescent girls’ programming.WB Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI). Work was largely shaped by the Council’s work, including the seminal report “Growing Up Global.” Since then, we have provided workshops and served as advisors for their senior staff on programming for vulnerable adolescents. Working now in Liberia, Rwanda, Nepal, AfghanistanNike Girl Effect. We work closely with them in strategic planning as well as project work in Kenya, Ethiopia.Girl Hub … you are familiar with that one.Clinton Global Initiative. “Empowering Girls and Women” was one of four action themes of the meeting. Since the annual meeting, the Council has hosted workshops for members of the CGI on building girl’s assets in the poorest communities.European Alliance. Newly formed entity in 2010 under leadership ofNeil Datta and Serge Rabier. Comprised of Equilibres et Population (France), European Parliamentarian Forum (Belgium), DSW (Germany), and AIDOS (Italy). They have received funding from the Nike Foundation to increase investments in their respective countries and within the EU dedicated to adolescent girls. The Council is providing technical assistance to this group and participate in a “Girls Summit” in the French Senate in 2011 prior to the G8 meeting. USAID Global Health Initiative. The Global Health initiative is focusing on girl and women-focused programs. We have been part of briefing and strategizing sessions for this work.
I’m sure there are others that I am missing here …
Visibility also applies to the types of girls we focus on in our work: those most likely to be left behind, and with clear vulnerabilities. Married girls are a particularly good example. In the US and other western models of adolescent programs, have focused on sexual and reproductive activities of unmarried adolescents. In most of the developing world the majority of sexually active adolescents are married. Yet their reproductive needs are not well met by programs address the larger numbers of older married women, even through we know that the first pregnancy is a special risk, even more so when it is a young girl. A married girl is also likely to be very socially and economically isolated within her husband’s family home – and have very little opportunity to build her own assets. Now, as I said, there are girls in many settings who face risks during adolescence, risks that their development will not be an upward track…
I’d like to outline for you how we think about the life of a program of work, which will outline the core of my presentation. Visibility cannot be placed in any one place here. There’s a feedback mechanism … as we gain more evidence, they become more visible; as the work goes to scale, it is more visible. So it’s sort of arbitrarily located in one position here. Evidence base is the foundation of anything we move forward. Core components … What are the fundamental components of all of our programs Pilot to scale-up … This can be the challenging step Resources (what we have created) Next steps …
Before moving to the evidence base …I want to introduce our theory of change. Girls – for slightly different reasons in different settings – face limited opportunities and investments in them.They often enter a sensitive period of life, missing a number of key assets…education, life skills, opportunity to socialize, etc.We work on identifying the missing assets and determining whether they can be addressed. This is not just to improve their adolescence.We expect that by investing at that critical time period, we can shift the trajectory of their development … of those issues on the right hand side.
A key feature of our work is the time that we spend at the outset, developing the evidence base…
We start by gathering data at the country level.We believe firmly that everyone should begin by analysing existing data. Data collection is a very expensive endeavor and I actually think it is unethical to collect additional data until you have examined what already exists. Unfortunately, this still leaves us with many gaps when it comes to working with adolescents, so we also collect our own data in nationally representative surveys We use this information to identify the most vulnerable subsets.Determine whether these most at-risk are being reached by current programmingIf not, we roll our sleeves up and collaborate with local NGOs to figure out how to reach that target group.
Why use existing data?Quick, inexpensive, underlines the importance of seeking out what exists.Downside: It rarely provides the coverage we are interested in.One of best examples of use of existing data is our analysis of the data on young people in the demographic health surveys (DHS), particularly the data on 10-14 which is gleaned from the household rosters.
Here is an example of that analysis from the 2005 DHS in Ethiopia. Child Marriage rates in Amhara Province are nearly double that of the next most affected region (Tigray)From a political standpoint, this is very valuable, because we are not telling policymakers that this is a problem everywhere, we are pinpointing the issues so that we can focus our efforts. And if you simply looked at national-level data, the issue would not be as stark. So this is an excellent, efficient tool for targeting of interventions.
Once existing data has been mined, it is often necessary to collect new data.As we all know, that can be time consuming and expensive. But it allows you to gather the information you are most interested in at the level that makes the most sense (with increased decentralization, governments want more and more local data. In India, we recently carried out in six states of India with over 50,000 adolescents. Because they are representative at the state level, they are useful for policy-making at that level (and in are high demand!).
Based on secondary analysis, then new data collection … it became very clear to us (in the 1990s) that unhealthy sexual and reproductive outcomes were being driven by a lack of social and economic assets during adolescents. Yet we found very few examples of programs that were providing a holistic approach that integrated asset-building. Most focused on building knowledge. The content is tied to our model of critical life events during the adolescent transition…there is flexibility in using the curriculum/tools…and topics are driven largely by the girls themselves. The Components are as follows:
These are core elements, although programs have other elements depending on the setting or other interests…Safe spaces is a core concept to the programming. The actual space looks different depending on the setting. But the important thing is that it is a place where girls meet regularly, a place they are expected to be at a certain time and certain day. It is a place where the girls feel safe and is deemed “culturally appropriate” by their parents and elders. So we have that basic social platform where social assets are built … connectedness to other girls, something that can be built and not taken away from a girl. We have moved away from peer models to work with mentors. They are slightly older than the girls and serve as role models. The content varies from program to program, depending on needs.And the duration or dose is also varied. In places where literacy is a primary component of the program (as in Ishraq in Egypt), the dose is much higher because of the intensity of contact needed.
I want to focus on one area of highly desired content – financial education. We focus on building economic assets for the girls. We focus on this rather than jumping to micro-finance immediately with adolescents. We see financial education as the building blocks for becoming financial beings. . . Some of whom will one day take out a loan. In Kenya and Uganda we work with public-private partnerships and extend the financial education into a savings program. What we learned in early work in Kenya is that accounts need to be individual and not group accounts, and girls need to have access to their savings; it can’t be tied up in a group lending model. Doing so can make them even more vulnerable during economic shocks. Of course the danger is that in economic shocks, the fall-back may be to go to a boyfriend or other male. This savings, small as it may be, gives them a sense of security. While they do not save much, our experience in Kenya is that they distinguish the immediate needs for money and the longer term, so that they are saving small amounts but leaving it in the banks. That’s good from the bank standpoint as well. This partnership is not always easy with private banks who have a profit margin in mind. And, it really requires a partnership between savings institutions and those who are skilled in adolescent programming.We are hoping that cell phone banking would be a good bridge between the needs of adolescents and the ways banks work, but that is not ready yet. Fees are too high for the type of savings that girls do
Now I’d like to turn to the issue of scale-up. We have interventions that have demonstrated significant impact – a 2 year delay in age at marriage in both Bangladesh and Ethiopia … but that doesn’t mean it’s time to scale-up across the country or export elsewhere. This is how we think about the life of interventions …Proof of conceptIs it feasible to reach a socially isolated population? This is a critical first step – both in targeting a vulnerable population and identifying the components of a program that would result in the desired change. Beyond proof of conceptWere we right about the drivers of behavior? What are the core elements that are most critical for scale-up? Once you have observed change over time, you would like to scale the program to help many more people. But do you know which are the core elements that are most critical for scale-up? A pilot project may involve 1) a very dynamic leader and 2) everything but the kitchen sink. How do you know which elements were most successful? Scale-upGovernment or government + local NGOGive you an example of our work in rural Ethiopia to change age at marriage in Amhara. We have a program in the village that has moved the age at marriage by a full two years. The program involved community conversations, girls asset building at the individual level, and incentives for families whose girls remained unmarried over the program period (a goat). Now the question is … are all of these components needed or do two of the three give you the biggest bang for your buck.
The Ethiopia project is now being expanded to four countries (Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya). In each setting, we are testing a combination of these three inputs …
Since resources are available on our website, I don’t tend to drag heavy bags of publications to meetings. So please do visit our website for some of these. Growing up Global is the result of an NAS panel on transitions to adulthood.We have a series of 50 four-page briefs that summarize our work on projects and themes related to adolescents.It’s all one – is an excellent sex education curriculum that comes from a gender perspective and is taking off like wildfire.
None of our projects have addressed girls in isolation from their communities. However, the focus really has been on the individual girl and building her assets. Parent, guardians and the broader community. When addressing issues like child marriage – and challenging gender roles, you are talking about changing norms. This needs to happen at the community level; otherwise you are putting all of the responsibility on the shoulders of girls. Boys and men – yes, they have benefited the most from general “youth” investments. But we can’t leave them behind. We need to examine how best to involve fathers and boys who are future spouses. We have an excellent intervention in rural Ethiopia that is doing this – village by village. Finally, GBV is so prevalent in the communities where we work. It is a topic that always comes up when gathering girls in a safe space. We are moving forward in looking at an ecological approach to GBV that incorporates both the prevention and response side of GBV.
We have gone through this already. But this is definitely an area of growth. A big question is how to link our work to livelihoods programs. This is frankly a big and messy field. We like to look at the relative benefit of social supports (that we have been providing) and the ability to make use of livelihoods opportunities.
We feel like we have learned a lot, broken new ground, but we’re always looking ahead. We’re not just interested in whether there were positive program effects. We want to know whether that programming shifts the trajectory of a girls’ life … as I laid out at the beginning. Does an investment at this early stage shift her age at marriage, first birth, etc. And do these investments have a greater return later in life? This requires us to follow them over a longer trajectory than simply a few years. Added to this is the need for most costing analyses of interventions and their long-term effect.
Building Assets for a Safe, Healthy, and Productive Transition to Adulthood Judy Diers, Ph.D. Poverty, Gender, and Youth Program May 11, 2011
Global Visibility United Nations United Nations Adolescent Girls Task Force Country-level interagency task forces on adolescent girls Girl-Up (United Nations Foundation) UNICEF UNFPA World Bank Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) Nike/UNF: Girl Effect Clinton Global Initiative : Together for Girls European Alliance for Vulnerable Girls USAID – Global Health Initiative – Girls and Women-Centered
Conservative settings Domestic workers Married adolescents
Moving an issue forward Visibility Evidence base Core programmatic components Pilot to scale-up trajectory Resources Next steps
Trajectory of Adolescence First pregnancy Marriage Employment IDs Citizenship Financial capabilities Economic sufficiency Literacy Life skills SRH Hygiene Negotiation skills Adolescence Adulthood
Developing the Evidence Base Gather country-level data Analysis of existing data, presented in a user-friendly format (DHS data books, maps, etc) New data collected in nationally representative surveys: Egypt, Pakistan, Ethiopia, India, South Africa Identify most vulnerable – by gender, age, geography, marital status Determine whether most at-risk are being reached by youth initiatives Collaborate with local NGOs to determine how to reach/target programs
Rarely provides all the coverage in age, geography, topic
The Council has provided fact books and user-friendly formats to get maximum benefit
Girls married by age 15: Ethiopia* Highest rates (48%) in the Amhara region *of those currently ages 20-24 (2005 Ethiopia DHS) Source: “The Adolescent Experience In-Depth: Using Data to Identify and Reach the Most Vulnerable Young People: Ethiopia 2005.” New York: Population Council, 2009. http://www.popcouncil.org/publications/serialsbriefs/AdolExpInDepth.asp
Indian surveys are state-specific and useful for ministers developing health agenda at the state level
Programmatic Components Safe space Variations: a classroom, dedicated hours at a youth center, a shipping container Mentors Variations: slightly older than the girls as role model, older matron as protector and advocate Content Life skills, HIV/AIDS education, literacy , financial literacy, health and SRH. Duration / Dose Regular meeting time – 1-5 times per week
Financial Education Philosophy behind financial education Kenya and Uganda programs
Potential for increased public-private partnership
Integrates financial education into the lifeskills curriculum in formal schools
Scale-up Beyond Proof of Concept Proof of Concept The Life of Interventions
Child marriage in Africa Community Awareness Girls’ Asset Building Incentives Incentives Comparison Girls’ Asset Building Community Awareness Community Awareness Community Awareness Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Resources Growing up Global – Cynthia Lloyd Transitions to Adulthood policy briefs
Aimed at translating research for policy, programs
Series is being updated; will soon feature 50 topics
and projects It’s All One sexuality education curriculum Girl-Centered Program Design: Toolkit DHS Data books on 10-14 year olds Monographs and papers: Darfur and education; Malawi longitudinal study, India survey, Ethiopia survey, Egypt survey
Address both the prevention and response side of gender-based violence
Economic Empowerment of Girls Importance of financial education as a foundation; differentiating needs for girls and women Challenge of extending savings programs Livelihoods program Importance of social support Links with SRH outcomes