Empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents program
Photo: Natalia Atkins/BRAC
Photo: Natalia Atkins/BRAC

Empowerment and livelihood for adolescents

31st August 2022

The Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) program (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.

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

Empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents

“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.

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

A rigorous evaluation by the World Bank has found lasting results:

At four years post-intervention, adolescent girls were:


more likely to engage in income-generating activities


less likely to experience teen pregnancy


decline in girls reporting sex against their will

Early entry into marriage or cohabitation also fell rapidly 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.

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.

ELA is now being implemented in multiple countries.

Empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents program 5
Empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents program 4
Members of an ELA girls club perform a dance about AIDS. Photo credit: BRAC
Empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents program 3

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.