Establishing safe spaces is a recommended protection and empowerment strategy for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) and group based mentoring programs are one platform through which to create safe spaces for this population.
YouthPower Action’s multi-component mentoring program for AGYW provides safe spaces for adolescent girls and young women through:
- Group-based mentoring and activities designed to improve participants’ social connectedness to help build girls’ social networks by establishing friendships and providing access to mentors;
- Creating a space where AGYW can access information and resources through curricula- based programming covering sexual and reproductive health, financial literacy, soft -skills, and gender content; group-based savings; and the onsite provision of, and links to sexual and reproductive health services;
- Comprehensive mentor training that includes specific sessions on community mapping, safety and engagement; violence response; and promoting an emotionally safe space for AGYW.
This multi-component approach was initially pilot tested in Northern Uganda with 500 AGYW; results from the pilot assessment demonstrated statistically significant improvements in comprehensive HIV knowledge and savings behavior. We are currently adapting and scaling the approach for implementation in Burundi, Ethiopia, and Nigeria where we will reach over 40,000 adolescent girls and young women. YouthPower Action’s mentoring toolkit is available on youthpower.org.