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Transforming the lives of adolescent girls

Hero image description: GAGE/Natalie Bertrams Image credit:GAGE/Natalie Bertrams Image license:Natalie Bertrams

Mainstream development actors are increasingly recognising the value of investment in girls and young women - and there has been remarkable progress over the last two decades in some areas (particularly education). 

However, in other areas, including early marriage and pregnancy, maternal mortality, and gender-based violence, there have been very limited inroads into achieving meaningful change.

It is critical that broader poverty reduction and development frameworks do not simply ‘add girls and stir’ to existing approaches but rather integrate a more nuanced understanding of gender discriminatory social institutions and related change pathways.

By discriminatory social institutions we mean the collection of formal and informal laws, norms and practices which have an effect on human capabilities by either limiting or enabling individual and collective agency. These frequently unseen ‘social institutions’ often have an influence far greater then generally appreciated in shaping development outcomes.

In identifying discriminatory social institutions and the laws, norms and practices which deny girls the ability to reach their full potential, we are seeking to understand how this potential is both constructed and limited. The programme is developing a capabilities and entitlements framework linked to formal and informal laws, norms, practices and non-actions (discriminatory social institutions), which compromise girls development.

This DFID-funded 4-year programme of work puts the spotlight on adolescence as a pivotal life phase with considerable enduring socialisation effects and important preparation for key transitions to adult roles, including transitions to work, citizenship, marriage and parenthood. The project has two primary objectives:

  • The creation of more effective policy and programmes to improve gender justice and promote transformation in the lives of girls and young women including a clear framework for measurement of progress.
  • To develop a clear understanding and uptake of the evidence that exists and the evidence gaps for effective programmes addressing discriminatory formal and informal laws, norms and practices, which need to be tackled in order to promote social transformation for girls and young women.

The goal of the work is to improve development outcomes for girls and young women, breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, and providing a catalyst for change, the returns of which will ripple through wider society. 

We aim to enhance the effectiveness of global efforts to reduce the alarming numbers of desperately deprived adolescent girls, improve their wellbeing and capabilities, and thereby catalyse change for communities, broader society and the economy.

Staff

  1. Empowering adolescent girls in developing countries: gender justice and norm change

    Research reports

  2. How communications can change social norms around adolescent girls

    Research reports

  3. Transforming the lives of girls and young women: year 3 country briefings

    Briefing/policy papers

  4. Adolescent girls and gender justice: country reports - Year 3

    Research reports

  5. Changing gender norms: monitoring and evaluating programmes and projects

    Toolkit/guidelines

  6. How useful are systematic reviews for evaluating gender norm change interventions?

    Toolkit/guidelines

  7. Social norms, gender norms and adolescent girls: a brief guide

    Toolkit/guidelines

  8. How do gender norms change?

    Toolkit/guidelines

  9. Doing qualitative field research on gender norms with adolescent girls and their families

    Toolkit/guidelines

  10. What can internationally comparable quantitative data tell us about how gender norms are changing?

    Toolkit/guidelines

  11. Knowledge to action glossary

    Toolkit/guidelines

  12. The law as a tool for changing gender norms affecting adolescent girls

    Toolkit/guidelines

  13. Question guide: researching norms about early marriage and girls' education

    Toolkit/guidelines

  14. Girls’ clubs and empowerment programmes

    Toolkit/guidelines

  15. What can gender indices tell us about gender norms that affect adolescent girls?

    Research reports

  16. Communications to change discriminatory gender norms affecting adolescent girls

    Research reports

  17. Transforming the lives of girls and young women – Year two country briefings

    Research reports

  18. Understanding changing social norms and practices around girls' education and marriage

    Research reports