Empowering Adolescent Girls: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Uganda
Nearly 60% of Uganda’s population is aged below 20. This generation faces health challenges associated with HIV, coupled with economic challenges arising from an uncertain transition into the labor market. We evaluate the impacts of a programme designed to empower adolescent girls against both challenges through the simultaneous provision of: (i) life skills to build knowledge and reduce risky behaviors; (ii) vocational training enabling girls to establish small-scale enterprises. The randomized control trial tracks 4,800 girls over two years. We find the programme significantly improves HIV and pregnancy related knowledge,as well as corresponding risky behaviors: among those sexually active, self-reported routine condom usage increases by 50%. Furthermore, from a baseline of 21%, there is the near elimination of girls reporting having recently had sex unwillingly. On outcomes related to vocational training, the intervention raised the likelihood of girls being engaged in income generating activities by 35%, mainly driven by increased participation in self-employment. The findings suggest combined interventions might be more effective among adolescent girls than single-pronged interventions aiming to change risky behaviors solely through related education programmes, or to improve labor market outcomes solely through vocational training.