Empowering adolescent girls in developing countries: gender justice and norm change

Research reports and studies
March 2018
Caroline Harper, Nicola Jones, Anita Ghimire, Rachel Marcus, Grace Kyomuhendo Bantebya

Adolescence is a pivotal time in a girl's life. The development of educational, physical, psychosocial, familial, political and economic capabilities enable girls to reach their full potential and contribute to the wellbeing of their families and society. However, progress is still significantly constrained by discriminatory gender norms and the related attitudes and practices which restrict girls’ horizons, restrain their ambition and, if unfettered, allow exploitation and abuse.

This book explores the detrimental impact of discriminatory gender norms on adolescent girls’ lives across very different contexts. Grounded in four years of in-depth research in Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda and Viet Nam, the book adopts a holistic approach, recognising the inter-related nature of capabilities and the importance of local context. By exploring the theory of gendered norm change, and contextualising and examining socialisation processes, the book identifies the patriarchal vested interests in power, authority and moral privilege, which combine in attempts to restrict and control girls’ lives.

Furthermore, the book demonstrates how efforts to develop more egalitarian gender norms can enable disadvantaged adolescent girls to change the course of their lives and contribute to societal change.