5.2 Planning, Persistence and Commitment is Necessary to Improve the Income Pathways of Extremely Marginalized Young Women

Many adolescent girls and young women face “quadruple discrimination” due to their gender, age, poverty, and marginalization associated with their ethnic, religious, or other status such as parent. Multiple constraints limit their access to economic opportunities. EMpower supports local organizations in emerging market countries to support the education, health and well-being, leadership and livelihoods of youth. Their partners work to engage extremely marginalized young women in economic opportunities that challenge traditional gender roles. As Box 5.2.1 shows, in both India and Brazil, partners have found that planning, persistence and long-term commitment are necessary to empower and create new livelihoods pathways for extremely marginalized young women.

5.2.1 Noteworthy Results: Navsarjan Trust and Lua Nova on Extreme Marginalization

Caste-based discrimination limits the economic opportunities of Dalit (formerly ‘’untouchable”) youth in India. In 1999, Navsarjan Trust founded to confront caste-based discrimination and violation of Dalit human rights, established Dalit Shakti Kendra (“Dalit Empowerment Centre” or DSK) to provide practical skills to Dalit youth in order to break down the traditional segregation of occupations along caste lines. Ms. Manjula Pradeep, of Navsarjan Trust, has found the following:

  • Girls change but families take more time: Navarsjan Trust sees impact in the Dalit girls who participate in the program. While participating in the skills-building program, the girls begin to speak for themselves, write diaries about their lives, and slowly begin to demand more of a voice in decisions previously made only by parents, such as arranged marriage. The challenge comes when girls return from the campus and reintegrate into their family. They try to assert their right to work and delay marriage and the family is not always receptive. Change at the family and community level will take more time.
  • Support the marginalized community with longterm interventions: Religious minorities and Dalits need greater education and support to develop leadership within the community. Long term impact will require a long term intervention, continued support change and will depend on leadership of those populations.

Lua Nova (“New Moon”) was founded in 2000 in Sorocaba, São Paulo state, to address the needs of socially vulnerable young mothers and their children. With the mission of “recovering the self-esteem, citizenship, social space and autonomy of young women in risky situations,” Lua Nova engages in income generation, harm-reduction, and community development activities. Lua Nova has established gift making, construction and confectionery enterprises where trainees develop both work and life skills. Raquel Barros, of Luo Nova, has found that:

  • Planning and persistence is crucial when defying gender stereotypes: When Luo Nova began training young women in brick making and the construction trade, everyone told them it would be impossible. They stuck with their original plan and when they completed construction of their tenth house they began to get positive attention from the community and even large corporations. Even when they had bad luck and challenges with their construction timelines, they persisted with their original goal.1





BRAC, a development organization based in Bangladesh that is dedicated to alleviating poverty around the world, shared how they have replicated and brought to scale the Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) program they started for marginalized girls in Bangladesh. The box that follows explains their experience with bringing this model to Tanzania and Uganda.

5.2.2 Bright Ideas: BRAC Links Education, Employment and Financial Services for Girls in Tanzania and Uganda

Replicating its experience in Bangladesh, BRAC is bringing holistic YEO programming for girls to scale in Uganda and Tanzania through the Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) program. Partners include the Nike Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, and UNICEF.

The ELA Program represents a holistic model with a simple design that lends itself well to replication and scale. Components of the program include: Adolescent Girls Clubs (safe-spaces), Life Skills-Based Education (LSBE), community participation, livelihood training (job creation), financial literacy, and micro credit support. The program is designed to achieve the following objectives: increased awareness of reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections reduced early marriage, early pregnancy, gender discrimination, violence, alcohol and drug abuse; and new opportunities for income generation. Revolving funds support the operational costs and provide a sustainable platform for replication of the program.

The ELA program has already achieved significant scale in the African region, reaching over 30,000 girls in Uganda and 7,000 girls in Tanzania.

Recent mid-term results from a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) study show that BRAC’s adolescent girls program has substantial direct and indirect impact on reducing pregnancy and improving condom usage among the girl participants, and that it also is delivering meaningful economic empowerment opportunities to them. The study is part of a research initiative conducted by BRAC in partnership with the World Bank and the London School of Economics.

For more information, see www.brac.net/content/ about-brac-tanzania.2