Sphoorthi-Empowering adolescent girls through peer leader role models
Millions of girls don’t get opportunities to live out their true potential. They are married early and begin child bearing at ages when they are not ready to be mothers. Globally, one in 3 women aged 20-24 were married before they were 18. In India: 47 per cent girls aged 20-24 were married before their 18th birthday; a fifth of babies are born to girls aged 15-19; and almost half of maternal deaths occur among girls and young women aged 15-24.
KHPT believes that existing measures to promote girls’ welfare, which attempt to change behaviour through incentives, services, and penalties, have only limited influence because such measures do not compellingly demonstrate and explain the importance of girls’ education, proper care, and equal treatment, and do not apply the power of peer pressure to inspire behaviour change through emulation. Peers influence people’s attitudes, aspirations, and behaviours, particularly with respect to schooling, yet a consultation with marginalized adolescent girls in northern Karnataka found that they have few local peer role models to raise girls’ aspirations and inspire them to delay marriage and stay in school. Similarly, parents lack peer role models who provide leadership and champion equitable treatment of children, girls’ education, and respect for girls’ wishes.
Given these gaps, KHPT has evolved a potential strategy for improving disadvantaged girls’ prospects through the cultivation of local role models of adolescent girls and parents who demonstrate and champion among their peers the importance of girls’ education, delayed marriage, improved nutrition, and better hygiene.
KHPT expands its work in the area of adolescent girls’ empowerment through this new intervention, the Adolescent Girls Project, with 3600 girls from disadvantaged communities in Koppal district, in northeast Karnataka, India. Funded by the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI), the project will be implemented from 2015 – 2018 in 42 villages.
Using a peer leaders model, the project will focus on creating and empowering role models from within the communities. To do this, the programme will work with adolescent girls’ role models to:
- increase their rates of secondary school completion by 80%
- reduce the rates of marriage among them by 50%
- increase the levels of Body Mass Index (BMI) and nutrition 50%
Further, the intervention will also work with girls from the peer groups of these role models to:
- increase their rates of secondary school completion by 25%
- reduce the proportion of married girls by 15%,
- increase the levels of BMI and nutrition by 15%
The project aims to mobilise and train 640 adolescent girls and 1280 parents as role models who will demonstrate and champion the importance and benefits of girls’ education and equitable gender norms among their peers.