3.4.6 Integrate programs in order to improve girls’ economic capacity and their capacity to resist violence

Research Spotlight: BRAC Empowerment and Livelihoods Program in Uganda

In Uganda, 60 percent of the population is under the age of 20. Girls are at high risk for HIV, with early pregnancy affecting their employment prospects. The evaluation focused on BRAC’s Empowerment and Livelihoods Program in Uganda (ELA) and its goal of empowering girls. Girls, ages 14 to 20, participate in four components: 1) safe and social spaces for girls, 2) life skills and sexual and reproductive health delivered by community mentors, 3) livelihood training in agriculture and poultry-raising based on market assessment and geared towards self-employment, and 4) micro-loans for participants over the age of 18.

The program changed girls’ aspirations. One participant commented, “If we weren’t here we would be hanging out with boys.” Randomization occurred at the village level with different participant groups. Evaluation results included the following:

  • Health: Sharp decline in the probability of having children, increase in HIV knowledge, reported higher condom use, no movement in self-reported condom use.
  • Education: There was no change in hours spent in school. Girls continued to attend.
  • Protection: Big drop in the probability that girls would have sex against their will. Twenty percent had had sex against their will at baseline. Girls who participated in the program were 17 percentage points less likely to have sex against their will compared to those not in the treatment.
  • Economic empowerment and life aspirations: Significant increase in earning. Girls are making more money and spending it on themselves. Girls are more satisfied with earnings and income, less worried about their futures, and less likely to worry about getting a job as an adult.

This is the first rigorous evaluation of an adolescent girls-only program in Africa. Evaluators concluded that the program:

  • Demonstrates the increasing importance of soft skills
  • Shows the double-effect on SRH and economic empowerment
  • Shows that participating girls were more likely to be working (+30 percent) and earning more
  • Participants engaged in less risky sex, had fewer children (-30 percent), and were a lot less likely (-75 percent) to have sex against their will.

For more information, see http://www.youtheconomicopportunities.org/book/182/52-planning-persistence-and-commitment-necessary-improve-income-pathways-extremely. Also, http://www.brac.net/content/about-brac-uganda.