Community Spaces for Adolescent Girls’ Empowerment (CSAGE)

CSAGE supports community-managed safe spaces to build protective assets and reduce the social isolation of vulnerable girls in northern Nigeria.

The Issue

Millions of girls in northern Nigeria face high rates of illiteracy, poverty, child marriage, and early pregnancy. They also have limited access to health, financial, and other social services that can improve life outcomes. These challenges, alongside harmful social and cultural norms, place girls at high risk for gender-based violence and undermine their chances of becoming healthy, productive adults.

The Progress

Collaborating with community-based organizations, CSAGE will reach 100,000 poor, at-risk adolescent girls ages 10–19 in six states in northern Nigerian (Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Katsina, and Zamfara). The program is designed to improve girls’ sexual and reproductive health and empower them economically and socially. Working with communities, CSAGE uses girl-only safe spaces as locations for meeting with friends and mentors to learn about sexual and reproductive health and obtain referrals to age-appropriate, quality health services. The girls also learn about financial planning and gain access to formal financial services. Girls access these services via a network of trusted local partner institutions identified and supported by community groups that are working with the Population Council to provide adolescent girl- and women-friendly services.

In addition to its program imperatives, CSAGE also has a strong impact evaluation and operations research component. These are designed to answer important questions about the effectiveness of the safe spaces approach in bringing about improvements in the lives of girls and changes in their communities.

The Impact

The Council and its partners envision that the safe spaces model used by CSAGE will be used by community-based partners to build a set of best practices that will reach hundreds of thousands of girls in northern Nigeria. CSAGE will also create Adolescent Girls Learning Hubs housed in local and regional institutions. These hubs will be dedicated to supporting effective girls’ programs; sharing knowledge; and building a constituency for policies and programs that strengthen adolescent girls’ protective assets (such as their health, literacy, and financial literacy) and improve their life chances.