3.4.1 Build girls’ social, health, and economic capabilities

YEO programs should be multi-sectoral: designing programs that respond to the synergies between health, economic opportunities, and social networks. The evolving research base, detailed in this section, demonstrates that programs that build girls social, health, and economic capabilities are more likely to produce positive outcomes across a range of interconnected issues. The Population Council, an organization seeking to improve the wellbeing and reproductive health of current and future generations around the world, has led programming in this area, evaluating which combinations of program interventions are most effective in achieving both health and economic opportunity results 1.

Noteworthy Results: Siyakha Nentsha Builds Social, Health, and Financial Capabilities of Boys and Girls

Since 2003, the Siyakha Nentsha (isiZulu for “building with young people:) program has conducted multivariate work examining transitions to adulthood in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, an area with a high HIV and AIDS burden. A current study examines three target outcomes for program participants: social support (including peers and mentors, social grants, ID documents), knowledge of effective HIV prevention and treatment options, and saving behavior. The program includes several unique features. First, young people participating in training receive a nationally-accredited certification that documents their skills. Second, the program maximizes the use of social infrastructure. Safe spaces programming piloted earlier in the region did not work due to young people’s time use and existing economic opportunities, so the program focused on schools, where young people tend to be in attendance between the ages of 16 and 20. Male and female secondary graduates are trained to deliver the program as role models, mentors, and confidants. They work as pairs within the classroom to model professional, mixed gender relationships and receive an auxiliary social workers salary. Finally, the Department of Education has been involved in the program since inception, thus facilitating eventual scale up.

The Siyakha Nentsha study design included multivariate analysis with 945 participants, who were interviewed at their household before the intervention began. Evaluation commenced six months after the end of the intervention, with a 76 percent follow-up rate even given the mobility of the region. The study included randomization at the classroom level.

Results included:

  • Huge leap in girls savings and increase in girls trying to open a savings account
  • Positive impact on girls’ cognitive skills, possibly as a result of the increased numeracy resulting from financial capability training
  • Boys reported reductions in having sex and the number of partners