Youth advocates cite a growing body of evidence that economic disparities fuel the HIV epidemic and contribute to other negative health outcomes among young people. Females younger than 25 are particularly vulnerable to the economic factors that contribute to the spread of HIV, including lack of education, involvement in cross-generational or transactional sexual relationships, pressure to contribute to a family income, and early marriage.
To address young people’s multifaceted economic vulnerability, some programs aim to create sustainable livelihoods for youth. The sustainable livelihood approach is rooted in the same philosophy as microfinance, but rather than focusing on credit and group-based lending, sustainable livelihood approaches focus on career training, skills development, and access to capital.
Few sustainable livelihoods programs for young people have been rigorously evaluated. Most of the literature exploring the effects of economic empowerment on young people comes from the microfinance sector. Program evaluations of microfinance interventions for adolescents have demonstrated low loan repayment rates and high dropout rates. Literature suggests that a livelihood approach may be a more appropriate model for this age group. To date, many livelihood programs have focused on lessening unequal gender power relations, and thus the major beneficiaries have been young females. Literature exploring the effect of livelihood programs on the health outcomes of adolescent males is sparse. More research is needed to assess the potential of livelihood programs to improve reproductive health and HIV outcomes for young people.

Young and Female – A Double Strike? Gender Analysis of School-to-Work Transition Surveys in 32 Developing Countries

This report examines the role of gender in shaping transitions from school to employment for young women and girls and provides an overview of many of the challenges faced by youth globally in terms of employment. The report concludes that being young and female does, in fact, serve as a double strike in terms of productive employment and provides recommendations for both macro-level policy interventions and more micro-level interventions, such as interventions aimed at providing out-of-school youth the opportunity for ‘second-chance’ education (2016).

Economic Empowerment Strategies for Adolescent Girls: A Research Study Conducted for the Adolescent Girls’ Advocacy and Leadership Initiative

This research report assesses data from a wide range of initiatives aimed at increasing the economic empowerment of adolescent girls. The report identifies a number of key findings and develops recommendations for program development in the future. In particular, the report focuses on six key factors affecting the economic empowerment of girls: access to financial, human, social, and physical capital, and social norms and institutions (2013).

Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) Resource Guide

The AGI Resource Guide includes lessons and resources developed during the AGI that were found to be useful in practice. The guide is designed for staff in government line ministries, practitioners, and World Bank teams that are working on youth skills training and supervising projects focused on these. The AGI resources and lessons are intended to help make skills training programs more inclusive of and effective for young women.
The AGI Resource Guide is organized in four modules covering the full project cycle and that can be explored according to the user's learning needs. The resources and tools included in the modules are meant to provide project teams at multiple levels with examples that can be adapted and replicated as appropriate.

Addressing Comprehensive Needs of Adolescent Girls in India: A Potential for Creating Livelihoods 

This report documents research on comprehensive programming aimed at adolescent girls in India, particularly in terms of those that combine interventions around reproductive health and rights with programs aimed broadly at livelihoods. The report identifies particularly effective approaches and uses the experience of these programs to develop recommendations for programming and policy around adolescent girls specifically (2013).

EQUIP3 Lessons Learned Experiences in Livelihoods, Literacy, and Leadership in Youth Programs in 26 Countries 

This book, published  summarizes learning from the USAID-funded Educational Quality Improvement Program 3, which was designed to improve earning, learning, and skill development opportunities for out-of-school youth in developing countries. This included a significant livelihoods component, in addition to components focused on literacy and youth leadership. The experience of the program provides valuable practical insights for programmers seeking to develop effective livelihood interventions with youth (2012). 

There is also a consolidated Livelihoods Guide available.