Empowering adolescent girls

Age at marriage, women's education, and mother and child outcomes in Bangladesh

Speaker: Rachel Glennerster, Executive Director, Jameel-Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT
Date: 16 July, 2013; 3.30-5 pm

In Bangladesh, as in much of the developing world, adolescent girls face numerous barriers when it comes to education, social mobility and marriage choices. School enrolments have improved in recent years, but girls are still forced to drop out early and get married. This affects their own health, education, decision-making prospects, future income-generating potential and status within the family, as well as the health of their children.

Kishoree Kontha (KK), a programme being implemented by Save the Children (US), is working to determine effective strategies for empowering adolescent girls and improve their health outcomes.

As part of an ongoing randomised-control trial, girls’ clubs were set up in 460 villages in southern Bangladesh. Some clubs provided peer-led education aimed at enhancing basic literacy, numeracy, life skills and nutritional and reproductive knowledge. Other clubs included training on basic financial skills. Another treatment group was given four litres of cooking oil every four months as an incentive to delay the marriage of girls below 18 years.

This is an ongoing study. Results from the midline survey suggest that, while treatments that include the incentive package affects several key outcomes, the KK programme without the incentive has limited impact.

However, marriage rates are lower by 5.5 per cent in the incentive-treatment arm. And girls in the treatment arm that combine the incentive and the KK programme show increased education outcomes, along with better physical health, negotiation skills, and knowledge of contraception and early pregnancy.

Seminar presentation (1.1 MB)

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