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Agency and empowerment for adolescent girls: an intentional approach to policy and programming

Journal issue/article

Written by Nicola Jones

Journal issue/article

As national governments roll out COVID-19 response plans, an opportunity arises to recast adolescent girls’ programmes and development policies to anchor them on girls’ voices, leadership, ambitions and assets. Drawing together the evidence on what we know works for adolescent girls, as well as the growing literature on positive strengths-based programming, this commentary calls for a girl-intentional approach to policy and programming.

A girl-intentional approach is described through three case studies, which illustrate the additionality of new or improved adolescent knowledge, skills and competencies; improved opportunities for adolescent engagement, voice and agency; improved community support; stronger relationships; and healthier norms, attitudes, values and goals. The case studies describe programme hooks that facilitate operationalisation, point to measurable outcomes and identify opportunities for scale, including the reopening of schools. Overall, inter-sectoral solutions addressing the myriad issues affecting adolescent girls and tackling pervasive gender inequities require greater emphasis by development actors and governments.

Authors: Prerna Banati, Lauren Rumble, Nicola Jones and Sarah Hendriks