More Power to Her: How Empowering Girls Can End Child MarriageIn 2011, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) published a review of evaluated child marriage programs, identifying five promising strategies. Having made this initial assessment, ICRW and our partners wanted to know more about how these programs had worked in specific contexts. They particularly wanted to understand how approaches that focused on girls themselves led to positive change.
To do so, ICRW collaborated with four organizations to conduct case studies of four promising programs that utilized, in whole, or in part, girl-focused approaches. Our overarching research question was: If and how did these programs empower girls, and how did this process of empowerment transform child marriage-related attitudes and practices? They reviewed the adolescent girl-focused components of the following programs: the Ishraq program, a joint effort between Caritas, CEDPA (Centre for Development and Population Activities), the Ministry of Youth, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), the Population Council and Save the Children, which prepares girls in Upper Egypt for re-entry into formal schooling using group-based programming; BRAC’s Social and Financial Empowerment for Adolescents (SoFEA) program, which provides social and economic development opportunities for girls in Bangladesh using peer-led, group-based programming; Pathfinder International’s PRACHAR program, a comprehensive behavior change program in northern India, which included a three-day reproductive health training for adolescent girls and boys; and CARE Ethiopia’s Towards Economic and Sexual/Reproductive Health for Adolescent Girls (TESFA) program, which promoted sexual and reproductive health and economic empowerment for married adolescent girls in Amhara, Ethiopia using group-based programming and community mobilization activities. This paper presents the main findings from these four case studies, and shares recommendations for the field on how to build on these promising approaches.

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