The Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) aims to promote the transition of adolescent girls and young women from school to productive employment. Interventions range from business development to technical and vocational training targeting skills in high demand; all projects include life skills training. The design of each pilot is tailored to the local context and addresses the specific constraints faced by girls. A rigorous impact evaluation of each pilot will help build the evidence of what works. The AGI provides a unique opportunity to break new ground—to experiment, take risks and find smart ways of introducing girl-friendly approaches to vocational training and youth employment programs.
Reaching vulnerable girls
Often the most vulnerable girls are unable to participate in training programs due to prohibitive time or monetary costs. The first step toward reaching this population of girls is to understand their needs and constraints. The AGI pilots are finding ways to make programs more accessible to the most vulnerable.
Challenging gender norms in the labor market
Social norms often relegate girls to traditional trades that are typically low paying. Girls’ families, male partners, employers, or even the girls themselves may think that certain jobs are only for men, not “women’s work.” The job skills training components of the AGI pilots aim to equip girls with technical skills for which there is a proven demand in the local labor market.
Bridging the gap to the labor market
When it comes to finding a job, many adolescent girls and young women struggle because they are more socially isolated, with fewer contacts. The AGI pilots are actively helping girls expand their networks and link to employment opportunities. The AGI pilots are also exploring ways to incentivize placement for girls.
Building girls’ assets for entrepreneurial success
The AGI pilots are building girls’ assets—human, social and financial—and supporting girls who want to venture into self-employment. Many of the pilots are teaching girls budgeting and business development skills combined with the opportunity to practice savings.
Bolstering girls’ and young women’s personal agency
Through the delivery of life skills training, the AGI pilots are working to equip adolescent girls and young women with the tools and confidence they need to take advantage of new economic opportunities. Life skills trainings focus on developing girls’ non-cognitive skills across multiple domains (social, emotional, personality, behaviors, attitudes. etc.). Specific topics include reproductive health, rights awareness, problem-solving techniques, communication and negotiation skills, and know-how on managing personal finances.
Emerging impact evaluation results from Nepal and Liberia show that the AGI has helped young women make large economic gains in employment and earnings.
In Liberia, results show that the Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women (EPAG) project led to a 47 % increase in employment and an 80% increase in average weekly income among project beneficiaries, compared to those in the control group. The majority of the employment increase was driven by the business skills track. The program also significantly increases the frequency and amount of young women’s savings. Results from an end-line survey show that impacts were sustained more than a year after the classroom training ended. The EPAG impact evaluation provides strong evidence that skills training can be an effective policy option for increasing employment among young women in Liberia.
In Nepal, preliminary estimates of one-year program impacts of the Adolescent Girls Employment Initiative (AGEI) show positive and highly significant effects on employment outcomes. The treatment group experienced approximately a 16 percentage point increase in non-farm employment, for an overall gain of 47%. Average monthly earnings increased by about 45%. These impacts tended to be larger for women than for men, including young women aged 24 and under. In contrast, limited effects are found on empowerment, reproductive health, or household level outcomes. These results will be expanded and refined in the coming year.
In Jordan, impact evaluation show that a vouch project was less successful. While the job voucher was active, female graduates with vouchers were 39 % more likely to work than female graduates without vouchers. However, this effect was temporary and did not last after the vouchers expired. Outside Central Jordan, girls with vouchers continued to have higher employment rates, but this may have come at the expense of those who did not have vouchers. Employability skills training showed no statistically significant impact on employment outcomes in either the short- or long-term. However training did boost self-confidence and mental well-being among the graduates. Insights from the evaluation are being used to illuminate demand-side and regulatory constraints to the school-to-work transition of young people in Jordan.
Preliminary results from the Haiti AGI are expected in mid-2014.