It's easy and exciting to say that social and economic empowerment should go hand-in-hand. But how does that end up changing lives for girls in countries like Tanzania? Here's a hint, as published recently in The Guardian:
"...self-reported condom usage rose 12.6 percentage points among those participants who are sexually active, and two years after they entered the programme, fertility rates were 28.6% lower compared to a control sample. Participants' reports of having sex unwillingly decreased by 83% from the baseline during a one-year period, which the report calls the clearest marker for the programme changing how empowered adolescent girls are in their relations with men."
That's the kind of impact BRAC's empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents (ELA) approach aims for -- real behavioral change that has an impact on future generations too. Everyone, from us at BRAC USA to BRAC's field staff to ELA club mentors to club members to future children of ELA club alumna, is grateful to count you as partners in making that happen.
Jackline Chikusa, who turns 22 this year, is proud to be an alumna of one of 180 Empowerment & Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) Clubs BRAC has established so far in Tanzania.
“Before joining the club, I had no future plans. I did not know how to control my emotions, make decisions, solve problems and choose my friends. Through this club I received various kinds of information and also life skills training in beautification and salon operations”, she said.
Jackline is one of over 1,190 young women in Tanzania that have received livelihoods training so far, choosing from a menu of training options including running a beauty salon. After her training, Jackline took her first loan of 150,000 Tanzanian schillings ($107) and started a salon business. With her second loan of 250,000 schillings, ($179) she expanded her business successfully, and it now earns profits of up to 150,000 schillings ($107) per month.
With your support, Jackline is more than a business owner. She's a role model for other girls in her community. Or in Jackline's words, “Now I am aware of many things and I’m trying to make my friends aware as well.”
Investing in girls so that they would complete the next level of education would lead to a lifetime earnings of today’s cohort of girls that is equivalent to up to 68 percent of annual gross domestic product. When adjusting for ability bias and labor demand elasticities, this figure falls to 54 percent, or 1.5 percent per year. Closing the inactivity rate between girls and boys would increase gross domestic product by up to 5.4 percent, but when accounting for students, male-female wage gaps and labor demand elasticities, the joblessness gap between girls and their male counterparts yields an increase in gross domestic product of up to 1.2 percent in a single year. The cost of adolescent pregnancy as a share of gross domestic product could be as high as 30 percent or as low as 1 percent over a girl’s lifetime.
The World Bank study demonstrates how investing in girls will lead to significant economic growth and points to the need for policymakers to create more robust programs that engage girls in the mainstream economy.
Since inception, BRAC has made girls central to its approach toward poverty alleviation. Our Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) and Social and Financial Empowerment for Adolescents (SoFEA)
Programs seek to make girls productive and self-supporting members of society by providing livelihood and life-skills training, combined with credit facilities. To date, ELA has reached over 800,000 girls between the ages of 14 and 25 in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
BRAC started its work 40 years ago through the rehabilitation of households following the Bangladeshi Liberation War. Since then, BRAC has been pursuing an inclusive development strategy, along with the global community, on a path towards comprehensive progress and development. This year, BRAC celebrated its 40th anniversary with its first annual Global Learning Meeting, designed to bring together staff and leadership from all 10 countries where BRAC works to move forward to further growth in alleviating poverty and empowering women.
BRAC has initiated programs for the growing population of adolescents and youth, particularly for girls, not only because they make up nearly one-third of the world’s population, but also because they are our future leaders who need urgent support and policy attention. The Global Learning Meeting featured a new global strategy on how to better engage the girls from our adolescent development programs, and how to use their personal experiences to improve our program and scale-up our strategy to countries where we have yet to establish youth and girls' programming.
With this new engagement strategy, our inspiring girls from Tanzania will have a platform and network to share their stories and touch the lives of girls involved in all of our girls' programs, including our newly launched pilot ELA program in Haiti as well our estblished programs in Uganda, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan and possibly extend to South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where BRAC aims to increase its youth engagement.
It is important that we share the knowledge underpinning the evolution and adaptation of our youth agenda, and discuss new opportunities, to design better and more effective programs to empower and unleash the potential of our bright young girls. With your support, we continue to witness the power of that potential.
In Tanzania, almost half of students enrolled in primary school do not graduate. Many children in primary studies are first generation students. They have a hard time adjusting to school from the very beginning, and quickly fall behind.
Members of BRAC Tanzania's Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents program (ELA) for girls are helping young children get a better chance at staying in school.
For three hours in the morning, thirty of BRAC Tanzania’s clubs for girls are transformed into pre-primary classrooms for 900 young children in the regions of Dar Es Salaam, Mbeya, Iringa and Dodoma. The teachers are all ELA club members -- mentors who have already graduated secondary school -- who have received training from BRAC on early childhood education. They engage the young children in classes and games that build emotional, social and cognitive skills.
Thanks to your support, the girls can use their safe spaces to mentor the next generation of children in their communities.
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