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Africa Impact Evaluation Podcast: Economic Empowerment of Young Women in Africa #AfricaBigIdeas


When it comes to helping young women in Africa with both economic and social opportunity, what does the evidence tell us?  Broadcaster Georges Collinet sat down with researchers and policymakers to discuss the hard evidence behind two programs that have succeeded in giving girls a better chance at getting started in their adult lives.

The girl that built her own house: “I don’t have to ask someone else to do it for me”

Kamilah Morain's picture

In Haiti, recruiting young women to train for what has traditionally been perceived as predominantly masculine disciplines is a challenging task. Our team discovered that many families wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to educate their daughters, yet they were hesitant because the training being offered was in non-traditional roles.

These female students were going to learn professions attributed to tradesmen such as masonry, carpentry, heavy machinery maneuvering, plumbing and electrical wiring. Fathers and especially mothers were fiercely opposed to having their daughters do this type of work but for different reasons.

Fathers often asked the question: “Why you don’t teach them to do something more respectable, more suited for a girl, to be a secretary, or work in a hospital?” Mothers countered the idea with safety concerns, afraid that their daughters could become easy targets for unscrupulous men in what are clearly male dominated professions.

Helping young Haitian women land their first job and get out of vulnerability

Olivier Puech's picture

Disponible également en français et espagnol

Edelene and other young women sharing their hopes for their country

“Should only men be allowed to be builders, heavy machinery drivers, or electricians? No—I want to be able to do these jobs too.” The young woman expressing this opinion is Edelène. She is 17 years old and dropped out of school in the third grade because her family could no longer afford to pay her school fees.

With her mother’s assistance, she is raising her one-year old son. We met her during our visit to the APROSIFA Carrefour-Feuille association in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince. Surrounded by roughly ten other young women from her neighborhood, Edelène shares her hopes for the future.

Fifty Million Twelve-Year-Old Solutions

Naniette Coleman's picture

“We have a situation on our hands and the clock is ticking. We have fifty million twelve-year-old girls in poverty,” the opening video proclaimed. The solution is simple and profound, the Girl Effect, “an effect that starts with a 12-year-old girl and impacts the world.” Despite the catchy rhyme, I was skeptical. Can you blame me? It seems that we women have been getting the shaft since that damn snake in Eden. 

The list of superwomen who addressed the over capacity crowd at the “Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI): An Alliance for Economic Empowerment” event on October 6th read like the World Bank, White House, Hollywood, Philanthropy, Business and the Catwalk list of Who’s Who. The crowd craned their necks from the hallway to catch a glimpse of World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and World Bank Director of Gender and Development Mayra Buvinic; White House Senior Advisor, Valerie Jarrett; Actor, Anne Hathaway; President of the Nike Foundation, Maria Eitel, and Supermodel Christy Turlington