Research Topic

Adolescent Girls’ Empowerment

Photo Credit: © Richard Lord

Carefully observed field experience by the Population Council shows that if we improve adolescent girls’ health, keep them safe and in school, and give them critical skills and a say in their own lives, they will be on a path to healthy, productive adulthood. When girls stay in school, they gain skills and knowledge, are less likely to become pregnant, and have more earning power. Giving girls control over the timing and number of children they bear improves their reproductive health, reduces unintended pregnancies, and typically delays childbearing.

The Population Council conducts rigorous research—including longitudinal studies, nationally representative research, randomized controlled trials, and implementation science—to understand girls’ circumstances and what works best to improve their lives. We identify which girls are the most vulnerable and where they are geographically concentrated. And we have shown that programs often fail to reach the most vulnerable girls.

The Population Council has the world’s largest body of research on programs to improve the lives of adolescent girls in developing countries. We are identifying best practices, refining the critical elements of girl-centered programs, and using solid evidence to help organizations allocate scarce resources to the most effective programs. We are also helping governments formulate the most effective evidence-based policies to improve girls’ lives and meet national development goals. Our programs have delayed age at marriage, increased girls’ savings, improved girls’ literacy, built girls’ assets, and returned girls to formal schooling.

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