Transforming the lives of adolescent girls

January 2012 to March 2016

Mainstream development actors are increasingly recognising the value of investment in girls and young women - and there has been remarkable progress over the last two decades in some areas (particularly education). 

However, in other areas, including early marriage and pregnancy, maternal mortality, and gender-based violence, there have been very limited inroads into achieving meaningful change.

It is critical that broader poverty reduction and development frameworks do not simply ‘add girls and stir’ to existing approaches but rather integrate a more nuanced understanding of gender discriminatory social institutions and related change pathways.

By discriminatory social institutions we mean the collection of formal and informal laws, norms and practices which have an effect on human capabilities by either limiting or enabling individual and collective agency. These frequently unseen ‘social institutions’ often have an influence far greater then generally appreciated in shaping development outcomes.

In identifying discriminatory social institutions and the laws, norms and practices which deny girls the ability to reach their full potential, we are seeking to understand how this potential is both constructed and limited. The programme is developing a capabilities and entitlements framework linked to formal and informal laws, norms, practices and non-actions (discriminatory social institutions), which compromise girls development.

This DFID-funded 4-year programme of work puts the spotlight on adolescence as a pivotal life phase with considerable enduring socialisation effects and important preparation for key transitions to adult roles, including transitions to work, citizenship, marriage and parenthood. The project has two primary objectives:

  • The creation of more effective policy and programmes to improve gender justice and promote transformation in the lives of girls and young women including a clear framework for measurement of progress.
  • To develop a clear understanding and uptake of the evidence that exists and the evidence gaps for effective programmes addressing discriminatory formal and informal laws, norms and practices, which need to be tackled in order to promote social transformation for girls and young women.

The goal of the work is to improve development outcomes for girls and young women, breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, and providing a catalyst for change, the returns of which will ripple through wider society. 

We aim to enhance the effectiveness of global efforts to reduce the alarming numbers of desperately deprived adolescent girls, improve their wellbeing and capabilities, and thereby catalyse change for communities, broader society and the economy.

Outputs

Empowering girls: challenging harmful gender norms

Public event | 15 October 2015 10:30 - 12:30 GMT+01 (BST)

This event will explore how discriminatory gender norms, including honour-based abuse, combine with other forces to limit girls’ development in the UK and globally.

Watch

Adolescent girls and gender justice: country reports - Year 3

Research reports and studies | September 2015 | Nicola Jones, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Tran Thi Van Anh, Dang Bich Thuy, Dao Hong Le, Nguyen Phuong Thao,Grace Kyomuhendo Bantebya, Florence Muhanguzi Kyoheirwe, Carol Watson, Bekele Tefera, Taveeshi Gupta, Guday Emirie, Bethelihem Gebre, Kiros Berhanu
The final findings from a multi-year policy research programme exploring gender justice for adolescent girls in Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda and Viet Nam.
Downloads

Transforming the lives of girls and young women: year 3 country briefings

Briefing papers | September 2015 | Nicola Jones, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Van Anh Thi Tran, Fiona Samuels, Anita Ghimire, Carol Watson, Grace Kyomuhendo Bantebya, Florence Muhanguzi Kyoheirwe
These briefings draw on the findings from the third year of research on the DFID funded ‘Transforming the lives of adolescent girls’ project.
Downloads

Girls’ clubs and empowerment programmes

Toolkits | September 2015 | Rachel Marcus and Sophie Brodbeck
This Research and practice note outlines how girls’ clubs and empowerment programmes can shift gender norms, attitudes and practices, drawing on case studies from Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda and Viet Nam.
Download

Knowledge to action glossary

Toolkits | August 2015 | Rachel Marcus with Sophie Brodbeck
This note defines key terms used across the Knowledge to action resource series.
Download

How do gender norms change?

Toolkits | August 2015 | Rachel Marcus and Caroline Harper with Sophie Brodbeck and Ella Page
This Research and practice note outlines drivers of norm change, drawing on ODI fieldwork in Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda and Viet Nam and a review of secondary literature.
Download

How do we empower girls? Listen to them

Articles and blogs | 29 March 2015 | Caroline Harper
'20 years on from the landmark Beijing Declaration, we still walk a difficult line between protecting the best interests of a child and empowering that child to determine her own path.'
Read and comment

Transforming the lives of girls and young women – Year two country briefings

Research reports and studies | March 2015 | Nicola Jones, Bekele Terefra, Janey Stephenson, Taveeshi Gupta, Paola Pereznieto, Anita Ghimire, Fiona Samuels, Carol Watson, Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, Florence Muhanguzi Kyoheirwe, Elizabteth Presler-Marshall, Tran Thi Van Anh
This set of four country briefings draws on evidence from the year 2 qualitative and participatory field research of the "Transforming the lives of girls and young women" project. They examine how social norms interact and impact on adolescent girls and their...
Downloads

Adolescent girls and gender justice: Country reports - Year 2

Research reports and studies | September 2014 | Fiona Samuels, Nicola Jones, Paola Pereznieto, Anita Ghimire, Grace Bantebya, Florence Muhanguzi, Carol Watson, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Tran Thi Van Anh, Bekele Tefera, Janey Stephenson, Taveeshi Gupta,Guday Emire, Betlehem Gebre, Kiya Gezhegne
These reports present findings from the second round of fieldwork conducted as part of the DFID-funded multi-year policy research programme, ‘Transforming the lives of adolescent girls’ exploring gender justice for adolescent girls in Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda and Viet...
Downloads

Drivers of change in gender norms: An annotated bibliography

Research reports and studies | September 2014 | Rachel Marcus, Ella Page with Rebecca Calder and Catriona Foley
This annotated bibliography highlights selected texts on the drivers of change in gender norms. It is part of a series of work on the multi-year, multi-country DFID funded project, 'Transforming the lives of adolescent girls and young women'.
Download

Measuring women's empowerment and social transformation in the post-2015 agenda

Research reports and studies | March 2014 | Caroline Harper, Keiko Nowacka, Hanna Alder and Gaelle Ferrant
As the development community continues to discuss what should replace the MDGS in 2015, ODI and OECD researchers propose that most effective approach for achieving social transformation for women and girls is to focus on tackling discriminatory social norms. Progress...
Downloads

Implementing the Millennium Development Goals for all

Research reports and studies | March 2014 | Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Nicola Jones, Tran Thi Van Anh
This country briefing draws on research from in-depth qualitative work undertaken in 2013 in Ha Giang province, northern Viet Nam, on what drives the shifting and persisting norms surrounding marriage practices within the Hmong community. The briefing concludes with a...
Download

Gender justice and social norms - processes of change for adolescent girls

Research reports and studies | January 2014 | Rachel Marcus, Caroline Harper
This publication presents the analytical framework for the current phase (year 2) of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) DFID-funded multi-year policy research programme, ‘Transforming the lives of adolescent girls’, which explores gender justice for adolescent...
Download

Adolescent girls and gender justice: Country briefings

Research reports and studies | October 2013 | Nicola Jones, Fiona Samuels, Paola Pereznieto, Grace Bantebya, Florence Muhanguzi, Carol Watson, Bekele Tefera, Anita Ghimire, Tran Thi Van Anh
This set of three country briefings draws on evidence from qualitative and participatory field research to examine how social norms interact and impact on adolescent girls and their ability to achieve their full capabilities.
Downloads

Adolescent girls and gender justice: Country reports - Year 1

Research reports and studies | September 2013 | Nicola Jones, Fiona Samuels, Paola Pereznieto, Grace Bantebya, Florence Muhanguzi, Carol Watson, Bekele Tefera, Guday Emirie, Anita Ghimire, Sanju Wagle, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Tran Thi Van Anh, James Hamilton Harding
These reports present findings from the first round of fieldwork conducted as part of the DFID-funded multi-year policy research programme, ‘Transforming the lives of adolescent girls’ exploring gender justice for adolescent girls in Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda and Viet...
Downloads

Ending violence against women is possible: a report from the UN

Articles and blogs | 11 March 2013 | Hanna Alder
‘Just as gender inequality causes and compounds women’s poverty, so too do poverty and marginalisation exacerbate gender inequality. It is a vicious circle that can only be broken by tackling the social norms and attitudes at the root which govern and shape women’s...
Read and comment

Adolescent girls, capabilities and gender justice: review of the literature for East Africa, South Asia and South-East Asia

Research reports and studies | March 2013 | Carol Watson, James Hamilton Harding and Caroline Harper
This Background Note synthesises the results of three extensive literature reviews exploring the extent to which gender justice for adolescent girls is shaped by formal and informal laws, norms, attitudes and practices that limit them in the attainment and exercise of...
Download