News & Views

Council Commentary

Does Pregnancy Really Cause Girls to Drop Out of School?

Does Pregnancy Really Cause Girls to Drop Out of School?

Globally, “schoolgirl pregnancy” is cited as one of the primary barriers to girls’ education. But the story may not be as simple as it seems. Today on Devex, Population Council researcher Stephanie Psaki makes the case that investing the time and resources to understand the true causes of schoolgirl dropout will pay off with more effective interventions.

Council Commentary

BALIKA: Building Assets for Bangladeshi Girls

Two out of three girls in Bangladesh are married as children. Through the BALIKA (Bangladeshi Association for Life Skills, Income, and Knowledge for Adolescents) project, the Population Council and partners are evaluating approaches—including building skills for modern livelihoods—to prevent child marriage and improve life opportunities for girls in rural Bangladesh.

A new report outlines baseline findings on the lives of girls in the BALIKA study areas. Drawings by girls in BALIKA illustrate the real-life challenges they face and the opportunities the program provides them.

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Council Commentary

Investing in the Poorest Girls in the Poorest Communities Early Enough to Make a Difference

Investing in the Poorest Girls in the Poorest Communities Early Enough to Make a Difference

For decades, the Population Council has generated the evidence to demonstrate that adolescent girls are a neglected population with great potential for galvanizing global development and implemented successful programs to build girls’ assets. Read a new commentary from Council senior associate and policy analyst Judith Bruce on the Council’s evidence and approach.

Council Commentary

What Are Assets?

An asset is a store of value—a valuable thing—that adolescent girls can use to reduce vulnerabilities and make the most of opportunities. Once a girl gains basic assets such as financial literacy, self-esteem, and a network of reliable friends, she is better able to achieve her full potential.

Download an infographic describing different types of assets from a new Population Council report, Building the Assets to Thrive: Addressing the HIV-related Vulnerabilities of Adolescent Girls in Ethiopia.

Council Commentary

Population Council Hosts Archbishop Desmond Tutu, HRH Princess Mabel van Oranje in Zambia

Population Council Hosts Archbishop Desmond Tutu, HRH Princess Mabel van Oranje in Zambia
Photo credit: François D'Elbee/Girls Not Brides

On Tuesday, September 16th, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and HRH Princess Mabel van Oranje, Chair of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, visited with girls participating in the Population Council’s Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program (AGEP). AGEP is designed to find the best ways to improve girls’ social, health, and economic resources so that they can stay in school longer, avoid early marriage, delay sexual activity, and prevent unintended pregnancy and HIV and other STIs. The project is led and being evaluated by the Population Council. The Population Council is at the forefront of directing policy attention to child marriage and in developing and testing effective methods of reducing the practice. Check out a slideshow of their visit at Girls Not Brides.

In a statement released after the visit, Tutu said, “It is encouraging to see that the government, civil society, traditional leaders and others in Zambia have recognised that child marriage has a devastating impact on girls and the nation as a whole. I am impressed by the determination of all those we have met who are working to bring an end to this scourge. . . . We have seen how empowerment programmes can transform a girl’s life, increasing her confidence and her ability to make choices about her own future. We also need to make sure that education, health and other services are accessible and affordable especially for adolescent girls—married and unmarried.” 

Council Commentary

A Call to Action to End Child Marriage and Prioritize Affected Girls Under 15

Judith Bruce is a Population Council senior associate and policy analyst. Annabel Erulkar is a senior associate and director of the Council's Ethiopia office. 

Each year, at least 14 million girls around the world are married by age 18—that is, as children. After many years of hard work by researchers and advocates, child marriage is now firmly embedded in the rhetoric of human rights. What we need now is a focused business plan that will ensure successful results.

Despite girls being highlighted far and wide in conferences and communications, the poorest girls in the poorest communities are not yet receiving the necessary on-the-ground resources to avoid forced sex inside and outside of marriage. Child marriage not only violates their human rights and endangers their health, but often also anchors them in poverty.

What can we do to move from well-meaning dialogue and diffuse efforts to actions that actually make a difference?

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Council Commentary

The Power of Family Planning

40% of all pregnancies worldwide in 2012 were unplanned. More than 222 million women in developing countries who don’t want to become pregnant aren’t using modern contraception. And 358,000 women and 3 million newborns die each year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Click below and check out our new World Contraception Day infographics to get the facts on how family planning improves lives, long-acting reversible contraception, and a new Council-developed contraceptive option for breastfeeding women.

          


We invite you also to read more about how the Council has shaped policies, informed programs, and developed new reproductive health technologies through the voices of our researchers.

Council Commentary

“Passion Is Our Fuel but Not Our Plan”

"Why are we so slow to see, count, or reach the 200 million poorest girls?" asks Council expert Judith Bruce in "The adolescent girl moment: Passion is our fuel but not our plan," on Girls' Globe.

In a guest commentary published today, Bruce urges the global community to invest in targeted, evidence-based, scalable programs for real girls in real places. Improving the health, economic, and cognitive assets of adolescent girls will bring measurable, lasting change and guarantee the well-being and economic preparedness of the next generation.