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
Poised at the intersection between childhood and the world of adults, adolescent girls face unique challenges to the full development and exercise of capabilities. These four country briefings draw on first-hand information, opinions and experiences from adolescent girls and boys, family and community members, district officials and national stakeholders to examine how social norms operate and impact on girls’ abilities to achieve their full life capabilities in Uganda, Ethiopia, Viet Nam and Nepal.

Findings do reveal some positive changes such as in Uganda and Nepal where there are growing educational opportunities for girls, as well as changes in practices related to marriage and household roles and responsibilities. In Viet Nam growing numbers of Hmong girls are completing lower secondary school, while child marriage is becoming less common.

Nevertheless, adolescent girls still lack a voice in the decisions that concern them and there are limits on their income earning potential and skills, their reproductive and sexual health, and their legal and physical protection. Entrenched discriminatory norms and practices combine with high levels of poverty and limited service provision to significantly limit the development of adolescent girls’ capabilities, while a sense of isolation and strict boundaries circumscribes their life trajectories.

Among other things, integrated approaches are needed to enhance service provision while promoting gender justice – building on and nurturing today’s positive trends and enhancing the ability of girls to empower themselves. Furthermore, if adolescent girls are to reach their full potential, they need tailored educational and vocational training support, alongside school- and community-based sexual- and reproductive-health programming.

This briefing is part of a broader multi-country initiative funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) called Transforming the lives of adolescent girls, which uses a common set of research tools that is adapted to the local context.