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.

Education: Gateway to freedom

BALIKA FACT: Girls in the BALIKA study areas have aspirations to work as doctors, teachers, and other skilled workers, however, lack of education is a barrier. Girls with low education typically work as domestic servants, garment workers, or in agriculture. They work twice as many hours as more educated girls and receive lower pay. (Artist: Keya Khatun, Class Eight, Khulna)

Eve Teasing: Obstacle to Girls' Education

BALIKA FACT: More than 30% of adolescent girls in the BALIKA study areas report that they have been harassed in a public place other than school. (Artist: Afsana Mimi, Class Seven, Satkhira)

Girls’ rights: Playful adolescence

BALIKA FACT: Only 10% of adolescent girls in the BALIKA study areas participate in any kind of outdoor group sports. (Artist: Mst. Sheria Khatun, Class Nine, Satkhira)

Intimate partner violence: Barrier to gender equity

BALIKA FACT: Half of girls in the BALIKA study areas say that a man who beats his wife is justified under certain circumstances. (Artist: Nur-e-Jannati Ankhi, Class Six, Khulna)

Balika center: Expanding opportunities

BALIKA FACT: Among out-of-school girls in the BALIKA study areas, more than half said they left school to be married. (Artist: Anamika Roy, Class Nine, Narail)