A recent Population Council initiative, sought to evaluate the impact of the “It’s All One Curriculum” on adolescent girls in Bangladesh. In a context where a significant proportion of girls are married before the age of 18, the evaluation aimed to generate specific data about what is effective in delaying the practices of early, child and forced marriage.
The BALIKA study explored values and attitudes regarding gender and rights awareness among rural adolescent girls from 12 to 19 years old. It asked questions about gender equality, literacy, necessity of education, a woman’s role in the family, masculinity, marriage and violence. The findings revealed the need for education on gender rights for all adolescents irrespective of age, marital status or level of schooling.
In particular, adolescent girls who were married, not in school, and who had lower educational attainment appeared to be less aware of their gender rights, including autonomy and freedom from violence.
Awareness of these rights is instrumental in changing attitudes and empowering adolescents to deal with and transform harmful cultural norms and practices.
Indicators demonstrated the demand for comprehensive and effective programmes to address the needs of particularly marginalized girls in terms of optimizing their health and well-being.
Key findings enabled the programmes to improve teacher training and support, involve parents and roll out complementary counselling programmes for both girls and their teachers.
Sources: UNFPA. 2015. The Evaluation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education Programmes: A focus on the gender and empowerment outcomes. New York, UNFPA; Population Council. 2014. From evidence to action: Results from the 2013 baseline survey for the BALIKA project; personal communication (Sajeda Amin, Population Council, 11 June 2015).