Adolescent girls’ capabilities in Bangladesh: the state of the evidence on programme effectiveness

Briefing papers
December 2017
Maria Stavropoulou with Rachel Marcus, Emma Rezel, Nandini Gupta-Archer and Caroline Noland

This rapid country evidence review brings together key evidence on the effectiveness of interventions seeking to support the capability development of Bangladeshi adolescent girls (aged 10–19). Produced to feed into the design of Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence's (GAGE) longitudinal impact evaluation and as a resource for researchers, programme designers and policy-makers, this mapping draws on 165 studies – 48 of which are impact studies and evaluations. As a living document to be updated as necessary, it lays out current evidence on 'what works' to support girls’ education and learning; bodily autonomy, integrity and freedom from violence; sexual and reproductive health, health and nutrition; psychosocial wellbeing; voice and agency; and economic empowerment.

Our mapping found that, of the examined impact studies and evaluations, only 21 could be considered rigorous. Most critically, nearly all had short time frames – and were conducted soon after projects ended – and few delineated between different age groups to ascertain whether some types interventions work best for younger or older girls.

Evidence suggests that, overall, it is easier to improve knowledge and shift attitudes than it is to change behaviours. For example, interventions have been successful at helping girls learn about sexual and reproductive health, teaching families and communities about the marriage law and providing girls with vocational skills. There is less evidence, however, that programme participation increases contraceptive uptake, reduces the odds of child marriage or impacts labour market participation.