Adolescent economic empowerment in Ethiopia

Research reports and studies
May 2019
Nicola Jones, Sarah Baird, Joan Hicks, Megan Devonald, Eric Neumeister, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Abreham Iyasu and Workneh Yadete

The policy note and report on adolescent economic empowerment in Ethiopia presents findings from baseline mixed-methods research as part of the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) longitudinal study (2015–2024).

Our research sample involves a survey with more than 6,800 adolescent girls and boys from two cohorts aged 10–12 years (younger adolescents) and 15–17 years (older adolescents), and more in-depth qualitative research with 240 adolescents and their families. The baseline data was collected in selected sites in Afar, Amhara and Oromia regional states and Dire Dawa city administration during 2017 and 2018.

We focus on: adolescents’ economic aspirations and the aspirations of parents for their adolescent children; the extent to which adolescents are able to acquire market-appropriate skills and access assets and resources needed for future economic empowerment; the availability of decent and age-appropriate employment; and access to age- and gender-responsive social protection. We pay particular attention to gender, regional and rural and urban differences, as well as differences between adolescents with disabilities and those without.

Our research found that despite increasingly high economic aspirations, adolescents continue to have few affordable opportunities to develop market-appropriate skills and limited access to assets and resources. As a result, many young people are effectively trapped in exploitative work with very limited, if any, safety nets or social protection.