Empowering Poor Girls in India with life skills

by Reach Global


More than half of all girls in India marry by the time they reach the legal marriage age of 18. In addition to the many adverse health outcomes associated with early marriage, early marriage limits girls’ education and economic opportunities. It literally defines their future and that of the next generation. That’s the intergenerational nature of poverty. And that's why we support girls and women.

Over the busy past few months, Reach Global has worked with our partner Reach India to identify new ways to support adolescent girls to make positive changes in their lives. When we began in 2007, we equipped girls with essential new knowledge and skills to address many of the daily challenges they face, such as understanding their bodies, eating nutritious food and saving for a goal.

We then expanded our support to help girls and young women meet more difficult challenges, such as negotiating when to marry and when to have their first child—fundamental decisions that have a huge bearing on a girls’ future health and well-being. These challenges are particularly difficult because “gatekeepers” in the family and community usually make these decisions for girls, based on longstanding values and beliefs. Supporting girls in these areas requires sensitive, tactful approaches attuned to local context and what girls can actually achieve.

We're now supporting girls, women and others in rural communities to hold local health care providers accountable for quality care that is sensitive to girls and women’s particular needs. For example, many rural health clinics have no female doctors or nurses. Many have no private area for girls to change. Many don’t provide girls the information and options they need to make good decisions about their reproductive health. We believe basic health care is a right, and we’re identifying ways to help girls and women recognize and pursue this right in communities across India.

This is not easy, but we’re engaging girls to help us design and evaluate Reach education, so we’re accountable to their needs and what we’re providing is as relevant as possible. We hope you’ll continue to help us in this work. As challenging as the circumstances are for girls, every day we see them make important new changes for themselves, their families and communities.

Sean Kline
Executive Director

I have exciting news to share with you! This month, Reach Global joins forces with East Meets West, a respected international development organization that has brought water and sanitation, health and education solutions to poor families across Asia for over 25 years.

East Meets West’s sustainable, community-based programs have helped 5.9 million people in Asia improve their quality of life, and its results-based financing methods have attracted significant funding from both private institutions and multilateral organizations. I’m confident that our new affiliation with East Meets West will allow us to extend our reach to new countries and communities, and enhance our ability to innovate on behalf of poor families, particularly women and adolescent girls.

Key Accomplishments in 2013
This important step in Reach Global’s evolution caps a strong year of significant accomplishments, most notably:

In India, working with its longstanding local partner, Reach delivered education on health, livelihoods and family finance topics to 92,256 women and adolescent girls. Since 1997, Reach’s pioneering social franchise has delivered education to more than 1.4 million poor women and girls across 14 of the poorest states of India.

In Africa, under the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s YouthStart Program (funded by MasterCard Foundation), Reach supported microfinance institutions in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi and Rwanda to introduce new financial and education services for poor youth, especially adolescent girls. This program is projected to bring vital skills and knowledge to 200,000 young people.

2014 and Beyond
As our two organizations share expertise and resources, Reach Global is already positioned for exciting growth in 2014 and beyond. Reach Global’s nonformal education and training capabilities and East Meets West’s direct experience implementing in-country programs will enable the two organizations to achieve much more together than they would on their own.

Sustaining Our Commitment
Reach Global remains committed to its mission of equipping millions of very poor women and girls with the knowledge and skills to activate their most powerful asset—themselves.

We will continue to design life-changing education on health, livelihoods and family finance, and replicate its delivery in the world’s poorest communities. Reach has a wealth of experience integrating its education into a variety of programs for poor families, including health and microfinance programs. We look forward to bringing this expertise to new partnerships across the developing world.

Reach Global will also bring its expertise to formal education in poor communities, equipping schools to leverage new technologies, teachers with new capabilities, and vulnerable students with the educational support they need to succeed.

I promise to keep you updated as we pursue this exciting new direction with East Meets West. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Sean Kline
Executive Director



Reach Global works closely with its local partner Reach India to monitor ways in which adolescent girls are adopting new knowledge, skills and practices after participating in Reach education. I've reported some of the exciting impacts we've seen in India among girls as a result the work you support. Given these impacts, we have looked for opportunities to apply our learning and expertise to support girls elsewhere while we continue work in India.

In May, for example, Reach Global traveled to Istanbul, Turkey for the International Summit of Child and Youth Finance. During the Summit, we trained the staffs of 10 African microfinance institutions on "Monitoring Financial and Non-Financial Outcomes for Youth.” This training was designed specifically to help institutions regularly measure how well they are supporting boys and girls to save, adopt positive money management practices and increase their economic security.

We've since followed up this training to provide on-site support to the staffs of these 10 institutions in their home countries across Africa. One of the institutions we support is PAMACAS in Senegal, which is providing youth a safe place to save and reminding them to save regularly for their future using text messages, such as the one below:


Set your savings goal!

Don't forget “little by little the bird makes its nest.”

Reach Global is excited to assist organizations like PAMECAS in Africa to support youth, especially adolescent girls, and to help them leverage technology like mobile phones, to do this in ways that are appropriate and effective. We’re also excited to be taking learning from Africa back to India to continue our work there supporting adolescent girls.

I invite you to make a donation at the link below or at our website to continue supporting this work on behalf of girls.

Thank you again!

The power of Positive Deviants!
The power of Positive Deviants!

In our effort to build on what’s working in communities already, we pay a lot of attention to "positive deviants"—girls and women in a community who model smart practices, such as hand washing, using a mosquito net, saving for a goal or eating nutritional food.

In addition to equipping girls and women with new knowledge and skills, Reach education highlights the practices of positive deviants to make educational lessons even more relevant and powerful for their peers, and family and community members.

If you'd like to read more about the power of positive deviants, check out this New York Times article from March.

It’s clear that momentum is building and others believe, as we do, that investing in adolescent girls and women is both the right thing to do and smart for families, communities and society. We thank you for your belief in our work and invite you to contribute to it by making a donation at the link below or at our website.

Thank you again!


In addition to designing education, training and building partnerships and new programs to support women and adolescent girls across the developing world, we undertake research to help understand the impact of our work.

We recently published an article on the results of such research in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health titled, "Leveraging Microfinance to Impact HIV and Financial Behaviors Among Adolescents and their Mothers in West Bengal, India." The article is based on a rigorous, independent, three-year study of the impact of our education on the lives of women and girls. I've summarized some of the findings below.

Girls who participated in Reach education were:

  • More confident talking to their family about a healthy diet and treating diarrhea
  • More confident prioritizing spending
  • 14 times more likely to give advice about condoms to peers
  • 3 times more likely to have heard of sexually transmitted diseases and know how HIV is transmitted; that condoms can prevent HIV; that HIV can be transferred from mother to infant; where to get an HIV test; and to ask for clean needles.
Mothers who participated in Reach education were:
  • More confident preventing diarrhea
  • More confident bargaining and prioritizing spending
  • More knowledgeable about HIV and how it is transmitted
  • 3 times more likely to ask for clean needles
  • 5 times more likely to give advice about using condoms to their peers

It’s clear that momentum is building and others believe, as we do, that investing in adolescent girls and women is both the right thing to do and smart. We thank you for your belief in our work and invite you to support it by making a donation.

Thank you again!



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Organization Information

Reach Global

Location: Oakland, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.reach-global.org
Reach Global
Project Leader:
Na Na
Berkeley, CA United States

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