New report on girls’ empowerment in Delhi schools. 8/2/2017

Published by ICRW

Today, ICRW released a report called “Shaping Futures: Planning Ahead for Girls’ Empowerment and Employability”, detailing findings from an evaluation of ICRW’s PAGE program.

The PAGE program, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, was designed to
empower girls in low-income communities and build job skills. The PAGE
project’s two main goals were to build girls’ self-efficacy and their
ability to identify, plan and realize their personal and professional
goals.

PAGE was implemented in four government schools in New Delhi, India,
with approximately 4100 adolescent girls (ages 15-17) enrolled from
low-income communities. The program was built around four
modules focusing on:

  •   Self.
    This module introduced the girls to the concepts of self-identity,
    gender, power, patriarchy and body image. In this module, girls were
    challenged to think about who they were as people, how their world
    (their family and community) perceives them, how they see themselves and
    how this identity can be fluid and evolving;
  •   Employability. This module helped girls acquire the skills and confidence to be able to take concrete step toward their future;
  • Resourcefulness. In
    this module, girls learned how to overcome gender stereotypes while
    choosing jobs, how to create a CV and apply for jobs, how to manage and
    negotiate a work environment and skills for financial literacy; and
  • Employability action practicum.
    In this module, girls performed a skill-mapping exercise to identify
    the areas of work in which they might be interested in pursuing.

In addition to the school sessions, the program worked with girls’
parents and with the broader community, as well as school teachers.
Together, these networks would create an enabling environment for girls
so they received support in their future planning and decision-making.

In late 2016, ICRW conducted an evaluation to
measure the program’s lasting effect on the participants. ICRW staff
measured several key empowerment and employability outcomes for girls
who participated in the program against those same outcomes for girls in
three control schools. The empowerment indicators included
measures of girls’ self-efficacy (their ability to have a say in
critical decisions in their lives, including around their marriages),
attitudes toward gender norms or gender equitable attitudes and
recognition of discrimination in their lives. The employability indicators included
measures of aspiration for higher studies and for a career, enrollment
in learning opportunities outside school, seeking information for future
goals and preparing a resume.

ICRW found that between baseline and endline, among
girls who participated in the program there was a significant increase
in the proportion of girls who reported that they have a say in
decisions around when to marry. The responses increased by 12 percentage
points (from 82.5 percent to 94.9 percent) in the intervention group
and by only 6 percentage points (from 87.2 to 93.4 percent) in the
control group.

Additionally,
we found that there was an increase in the proportion of girls who
sought information about their future goals in both intervention and
control schools, but the increase was higher in the intervention
schools. ICRW also noted a large increase in girls who took skills
courses outside of school.

ICRW found a positive change in the attitudes toward gender equality
among older girls, and changes in attitudes around discrimination. One
participant said, “Whatever work women do, men also do, but they do it
outside the house. For example, women and men can both cook, but the
woman cooks at home and gets no ‘salary’, whereas when a man cooks and
pursues that as a profession, he gets paid for it.”

“This data shows that programs like PAGE can have a lasting impact on
girls’ future,” said Ravi Verma, director of ICRW’s Asia Regional
Office. “We now know what can work to transform the way girls think
about themselves, their self-worth and their future potential in the
labor market. ICRW will use this data to improve its approach to build
even stronger programs that will positively impact girls’ futures.”

ICRW found a positive and highly significant effect
of the program on employability as well. While the respondents were
typically from low-income households, there was a widespread desire
among the girls to make a better life for themselves and their siblings
in the future. Participants said they wanted to do well and make their
parents proud and that studying well and getting a good job were seen as
the pathways to realizing these aspirations. Several participants
credited the PAGE program’s sessions in helping them set goals for their
future and for helping them recognize the need for clarity about future
choices.

“When girls learn how to negotiate their own space within the
limitations of the patriarchal frameworks they are a part of, it gives
them the strength and confidence to not just dream about their futures,
but also concretely plan towards it,” said Aditi Vyas, researcher on the
PAGE project. “Programs like PAGE go beyond typical programming, which
focuses on topics such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, and
provides practical skills and know-how for girls to build their agency
and potential opportunities for employment.”

Previous
research has shown that while the gender gap in school enrollment has
been closing, the gender gap in labor force participation is on the
rise. Reaching girls during adolescence is critical — decisions made and
behaviors established during this period affect their horizons later in
life. Programs like PAGE can help give girls the skills, confidence and
tools to pursue careers after they graduate, helping to narrow the gap
in labor force participation and giving girls the agency to pursue jobs
that help them meet their financial needs.

With the lessons learned
throughout implementation and through the evaluation, ICRW will be
implementing another program, Plan-It Girls, in Jharkhand, India this
year.