Save the Children Empowering Girls in Bangladesh

by Save the Children Federation
Bangladesh-Mother with Child
Bangladesh-Mother with Child

A Dramatically Effective Save the Children Study Proves Newborn Mortality Can Be Cut by One-third-

Hundreds Saved in Bangladesh, Potentially Millions Worldwide

The home-based care strategy resulted in a one-third (34 percent) reduction in newborn mortality in study areas. David Oot, Associate Vice-President of the Department of Health and Nutrition at Save the Children commented, "This study demonstrated that a package of basic, low-cost services and education, delivered through community health workers and the active engagement of other community members, can save newborn lives, and improve the lives of thousands of families."

For the home-based care strategy Health workers were recruited locally and received six weeks of training before visiting families in their districts. They made two home visits to expectant mothers, where they emphasized the importance of:

Taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid Selecting a clean place for the mothers to give birth Using a sterile blade to cut the baby's umbilical cord Breastfeeding immediately after birth Keeping the newborn warm They also advised new mothers and familes to seek appropriate care for signs of maternal and newborn illnesses, delay bathing the infant to avoid hypothermia and continue breastfeeding exclusively.

Families in the home-based care group also received three follow-up visits after the birth, on days 1, 3 and 7, when health workers were able to assess the health of the newborn, identify infants who were ill, provide initial treatment of infections and refer families to hospitals or complete the course of antibiotics for families opting for home-based treatment.

Dr. Uzma Syed, Asia Regional Advisor for Newborn Health at Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives program, said, "The evidence collected here will help us tailor our work in Bangladesh and around the world, making it possible to help many more families."

Photo Caption: A mother and her 7-day-old child receive a home visit.

The KAISHAR Program is being implemented in Nasirnagar to improve adolescent health behaviors. The program will continue to ensure adolescents’ access to reproductive and sexual health information including HIV/AIDS through linking them with existing government, NGO and other community-based services. The ARSH program uses the strategy of peer education to enhance sexual health and awareness among adolescents. In FY06, the ARSH program achieved the following:

•880 male and female adolescents were oriented as peer educators and they facilitated 28,958 peer education sessions on ARSH for 8,800 male and female adolescents in the community

• 17,022 parents, in-laws and husbands received ARSH related information through 1,176 workshops

• 20,872 adolescents practiced organization and communication skills through 76 get-togethers and Adult-Adolescent Dialogues • Information regarding services was provided to 5,441 adolescents through health education sessions at satellite clinics and counseling sessions at health facilities

• TT Vaccinations were given to 3,446 female adolescent girls by government health service providers ARSH Circle at a community based information center in Bangladesh; Photograph by Bangladesh Field Staff

• 200 Health Service Providers and Village Health Practitioners received training on adolescent-friendly health services.

Strengthening Girls’ Voices In FY07, with support from the Nike Foundation, a unique cross-sectoral project for adolescent girls, named Kishoree Kontha will be implemented in three sub-districts of Barisal division. This program will strive to improve the well-being of rural adolescent girls by improving their knowledge, life and livelihood skills with the goal of poverty reduction. The experiences and lessons learned from KAISHAR program implementation will continue to be applied to this girls empowerment project.

Innovation The start of the Nike-funded program has provided a unique opportunity to partner with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to test and determine program components that can have the greatest impact on adolescent girls’ empowerment. This will add to the evidence base for effective multi-sector programming to reach adolescent girls.

A key aspect of Kishoree Kontha project is financial literacy, supporting adolescent girls to make decisions about investments in income-generating opportunities and continuing education. The financial literacy component of the project provides an important opportunity to explore savings with adolescent girls.

As the girls involved in the project learn more about financial literacy and value investments in education, personal hygiene and income-generation opportunities, interest in savings will grow. Already many girls are saving, but most often put their savings in boxes made of dried mud or in bamboo, which puts their savings at risk.

To enable adolescent girls to be viewed less as burdens and more as contributors to both households and communities, the Nike Foundation has provided additional funding to Save the Children to complement the existing program with a savings component in those areas that are currently receiving Save the Children’s set of financial interventions. Project staff will work with a minimum of 5,000 girls and the financial sector to develop safer savings and investment options during three program cycles. Save the Children will explore partnerships with existing banks and microfinance institutions. The project will explore both individual and group savings and investment mechanisms

Program Description With support from the Nike Foundation, Save the Children (SC) has been implementing a 3-year adolescent girls’ empowerment project, Kishoree Kontha (Adolescent Girl’s Voice), in south-central Bangladesh since May 2006. This project was added to a holistic food security program called Jibon-O-Jibika that is funded by USAID in three districts: Barisal, Patuakhali and Bhola.

Kishoree Kontha provides SC with a unique opportunity to leverage its existing food security program to address the needs of Bangladeshi adolescent girls aged 10 to 19. The project operates in five sub-districts of three districts (Babugonj and Muladi of Barisal district, Sadar and Bauphal of Patuakhali district and Sadar of Bhola district). The primary target group is an estimated 45,000 adolescent girls ages 10-19; the secondary target groups include parents, community and religious leaders, teachers, local governments, non-governmental organizations, village health service providers and marriage registers and matchmakers. The Kishoree Kontha project focuses on the holistic development of adolescent girls by giving them strong voices that will help them shape bright and healthy futures. This holistic development approach focuses on five main strategies: community mobilization; literacy and school learning support; developing social networks and life skills; increasing readiness for livelihood opportunities; and providing incentives to delay the age of marriage. The first four strategies of the project will be implemented at the field level through two partners: the Bangladesh Development Society and Padakhep Manabik Unnayan Kendra (Padakhep). Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ,the research partner of this project, and Save the Children will implement the final component, delaying the age of marriage, by providing food for families with unmarried adolescent girls through SC’s existing food security program. The implementation of these strategies will be randomized with control groups; both livelihoods readiness and provision of incentives will be monitored for their value-add to the others.

Partner Organization Profiles and Roles

Save the Children SC plays a lead role in the design, partner capacity building and ongoing monitoring of the project. SC is working with local partners to develop their ability to be relevant to adolescent girls’ needs and aspirations. SC works with J-PAL to capture learning in delivery of a comprehensive set of interventions.

Bangladesh Development Society : This implementing partner for Kishoree Kontha is responsible for two sub-districts of Barisal district. The Society is a regionally based NGO that has been operational since 1978, and work mainly with local non-governmental and community-based organizations in the Barisal division to improve health, microfinance and livelihoods for people, especially those who are disadvantaged. The Society is currently funded by Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation, SIMAVI-Holland, Practical Action in Bangladesh and Bangladesh Bank, in addition to Save the Children. .

Padakhep Manabik Unnayan Kendra: Padakhep is the implementing partner for the Kishoree Kontha project for three sub-districts in Bhola and Patuakhali districts. Padakhep is a national-level non-governmental organization, working in health, early childhood development, education, microfinance, agriculture and research activities and is funded by national and international donor agencies. This organization is also the partner of Save the Children for the nationwide HIV/AIDS prevention project. Major donors to Padakhep include PKSF, IFAD, CGAP/World Bank, DANIDA, Grameen Trust, Govt. of Bangladesh, WINROCK INT., Oxfam, UNICEF, MSW, FHI, UNDP, Action Aid Bangladesh, AED, USAID, BNFE, European Commission, BRAC, IDCOL, MWCA, UNDP, and BSAF.

Both organizations are implementing the Kishoree Kontha project in 5 sub-districts through female front-line staff. These staff members are supervised by field officers. All project activities of districts are being managed by the team Leaders; overall coordination and project management are the responsibilities of project coordinators of the two partner organizations.


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Organization Information

Save the Children Federation

Location: Fairfield, CT - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Megan McLain
Manager, Corporate Partnerships
Westport, CT United States

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