Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents

About the Program

The Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) program integrates education, social empowerment, and economic empowerment in order to prepare girls for lives as strong, resilient, and adaptable adults. Established by BRAC, ELA offers adolescent girls a safe space near their home to socialize with other girls as well as training in life skills and livelihoods and access to microfinance.

Through a peer mentorship model, girls learn about gender issues, women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health and family planning, financial literacy, business skills, soft skills like conflict resolution and negotiation, and more.

Photo courtesy of Natalia Atkins/BRAC.
Photo courtesy of Natalia Atkins/BRAC.

“It starts with “safe spaces” close to the home, where teens can discuss problems with their peers in small groups and build their social networks, away from the pressures of family and male-centred society. Health education, confidence building and other life skills are added to the mix. Finally, as one of the world’s earlier and largest providers of microfinance, BRAC has added an innovative financial component. To navigate their way to a more prosperous future, teens from poor families require financial education, capital, livelihood skills, a sense of self-worth and an entrepreneurial mindset, all of which can be taught or encouraged.” – BRAC

Photo courtesy of BRAC.
Photo courtesy of BRAC.

ELA is now being implemented in multiple countries. In Uganda, where 60% of the population is under 20 years old, the intervention aimed to empower adolescent girls face by simultaneously providing them vocational training and information on sex, reproduction, and marriage.

Photo courtesy of BRAC. Members of an ELA girls club perform a dance about AIDS.
Photo courtesy of BRAC. Members of an ELA girls club perform a dance about AIDS.

rigorous evaluation by the World Bank has found lasting results:

  • At four years post-intervention, adolescent girls in treated communities were five times more likely to engage in income-generating activities, corresponding to a 48% increase over baseline levels, an impact almost entirely driven by their greater engagement in self-employment.
  • Teen pregnancy fell by a third, and early entry into marriage or cohabitation also fell rapidly.
  • Strikingly, the share of girls reporting sex against their will dropped by close to a third and aspired ages at which to marry and start childbearing moved forward.

The results highlight the potential of a multifaceted program that provides skills transfers as a viable and cost-effective policy intervention to improve the economic and social empowerment of adolescent girls over a four-year horizon.

Photo courtesy of BRAC.
Photo courtesy of BRAC.

Learn More:

This spotlight was pulled from “What Works to Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children,” a systematic review of proven solutions and best practices to prevent and respond to sexual violence against children and youth (SVAC). The review was completed in collaboration with a group of experts and allied organizations and highlights evidence-based solutions from around the world. Read the whole set of #SVSolutions Program Spotlights here.

Program Overview

  • Program: Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents
  • Organization: BRAC
  • Strategy:  Income & Economic Strengthening
  • Intervention Type: Comprehensive programs that include mentoring and micro-finance training (e.g., information on rights, conflict resolution, sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and financial literacy training–including business planning and budget management)
  • Ranking: This intervention is categorized as PROMISING
  • Location: Liberia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda
  • Age Group: Early and late adolescence
  • Gender: Females

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