Empowering Adolescent Girls: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Uganda

Published: September 2012

The research conducted presents that 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 4800 girls over two years.

Key Findings

  • Interventions that simultaneously try to reduce informational constraints related to risky behaviors and reduce constraints on the provision of skills related to income generation, can have beneficial, quantitatively large and sustained impacts on adolescent girls along both dimensions.
  • The Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) programme offers some promise to policy makers, as being a low cost and scalable intervention that enables adolescent girls to improve their life outcomes.
  • This is especially relevant in many parts of the developing world that are facing the youth bulge' and the need to skill and provide meaningful opportunities to their young populations.
  • The gains to a twin-pronged ELA-style programme are especially acute among adolescent girl populations, who face similarly constrained labor market opportunities as men, but are also impacted by norms of early marriage, childbirth and engagement in risky behaviors.
  • Absent early twin-pronged interventions that simultaneously tackle both risky behaviors and the provision of vocational skills, such cohorts may otherwise be resigned to worse life trajectories that become harder or impossible to reverse through later policy interventions.

Populations Adolescent Girls

Complementary Outcomes HIV/AIDS, Sexual And Reproductive Health

Publishers London School of Economics and Political Science

Geographic Focus Africa (Eastern) / Uganda

Funded by Bank Netherlands, Gender Action Plan of the World Bank, Nike Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation