Integrated Programmes Supporting Adolescent Girls

Published on 22 July 2014

This rapid review provides examples of integrated programmes that support adolescent girls. These are programmes which provide integrated support across multiple sectors or activities at once, e.g. covering aspects such as health, education, economic empowerment, preventing violence, forced marriage, etc.

The rapid review uncovered more programme reports than independent programme evaluations, although most programmes appear to have ongoing monitoring or preliminary evaluations. There was very little engagement with programmes’ cost and cost effectiveness; the methods of programme scale-up; and concrete lessons learned. This information is provided where available in the literature.

Most programmes did not just target adolescent girls, but extended their support to young women too (ranging from a start age of 10 to an end age of 30). Some programmes focused on very specific groups of girls, such as married or out-of-school girls, while others targeted girls more generally. Some programmes catered to hundreds of girls, while others met the needs of hundreds of thousands.

All the programmes included take an integrated approach and address a variety of economic, educational, health and social skills. They often include a safe space for social activities, where girls can learn economic, health and social skills. Some of the programmes consisted of a set training period, while others were ongoing for as long as the girls were eligible. Many programmes are implemented at the ground level by

2 GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1125 adolescent girls themselves, who work as peer educators. A number of the programmes were scaled up, either within the country or to other countries, and so were incorporated into government programmes. The programmes have positive impacts

on girls’ empowerment, livelihoods, health and education. Evaluations found that girls especially appreciated having a nearby safe space of their own and being educated by their peers.

The effectiveness of the integrated approach is only examined in a number of reports. One evaluation finds that an integrated approach seems to be more effective than single-focus interventions in improving social and economic empowerment of adolescent girls. Another finds that there appears to be little difference in outcomes compared to a single focus programme. However, that evaluation concludes that girls who participated in the integrated programmes may have experienced the greatest overall gains from programme participation.

The literature suggests that a number of factors contribute to a programme’s success and sustainability.

They include:

  • Community and parental involvement: The evidence strongly highlights the importance of gaining the support of parents and the community for the programme’s success and long -term sustainability. A number of programmes took the time to explain the programme to parents and had regular meetings with parents/community. The livelihood training component was found in some cases to win parents over to the programmes other aims. A number of programmes went on to include boys and carry out advocacy activities in the local community.
  • Government involvement: Having a relationship with local and national government was found in some cases to be beneficial to the scale-up and sustainability of programmes.
  • Programme design: Some programmes found that elements of successful programme design include: a long and thorough design process; thorough needs and opportunities assessments; a focus on contextual and relevant skills and information for girls ’ everyday lives; programme flexibility in terms of scheduling ; support for girls’ participation (e.g. transport allowance and free childcare); and fun activities to motivate participation in awareness raising activities.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: One programme evaluation felt that rigorous evaluation of the programme allowed for effective learning and was critical for making the case for scale-up.

A number of programmes also highlight that it is important to specifically target the most vulnerable girls to ensure their participation. Continued support for girls who have left programmes is important for ensuring the long-term effectiveness of the programmes aims.


Brigitte Rohwerder

Research Officer

Publication details

published by
Rohwerder, B.


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