Adolescent girls are an especially vulnerable section of the Indian population. They face multiple constraints across many dimensions of their life such as health, education, income, and social status. In the two Indian states of Chhattisgarh and Bihar, recent policies prioritizing gender inequality have not been entirely successful in reaching adolescent girls. Gaps persist in their knowledge about healthcare practices including sexual and reproductive health (SRH), nutritional information, and mental wellness., Provision of support regarding higher education, financial management, and employment opportunities is scarce. Their low levels of school completion exacerbate an already uneven access to digital consumption and connectivity. Girls are also vulnerable to early marriage, increasing the likelihood of pregnancy-related complications and poverty. Due to the litany of potential challenges they face, there have been various studies evaluating the effectiveness of interventions geared towards specific skills like SRH trainings, gender attitudes, health, etc. However, there remains a curious dearth of literature on the effect of collectivizing skills that touch different but related dimensions of their lives into a cohesive and holistic program. Bundling up multiple forms of skills can be very beneficial to adolescent girls in navigating various socio-economic barriers they face.
In the context of low-income families based in a developing country, can an integrated training that extends its scope to digital, financial, and life skills, improve social, economic, and personal autonomy among adolescent girls? Can such an intervention impact various outcomes for adolescent girls such as their life aspirations, their likelihood of being married, and their autonomy?
The Sakshamaa initiative is a two-year empowerment program focused on Bihar and Chhattisgarh. The program is being implemented by the Centre for Catalyzing Change (C3). The objective is to train at least 1,000 adolescent girls in the age cohort of 15-19 years in rural areas. These girls are in a school-to-work transition phase. The target is to strengthen their capabilities and enable strong transitions into adulthood. The program will span across six critical areas:
2) Economic empowerment
3) Digital literacy
4) Bodily integrity and holistic health
5) Psychosocial well-being
6) Voice and agency.
Sakshamaa seeks to simultaneously engage with participants’ families and local communities to shift ingrained societal beliefs on gender. It aims to foster supportive and responsive communities for girls.
Good Business Lab has designed a cluster-randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of the modules taught through Sakshamaa on participating girls' social, economic, and welfare outcomes. The study has two intervention arms:
1) Treatment: 50% of the study villages will be randomized into the treatment arm that will receive the Sakshamaa training
2) Control group: 50% of the villages will be the control group that will not receive any training
At the highest level, we will compare the area outcomes of participants in treatment villages to control villages after the intervention. We will also analyze any changes in the attitudes of communities who received the training versus those who did not. Covering the program’s focus areas, our evaluation’s outcomes of interest include, but are not limited to AGs’ educational attainment; labor force participation; marital and fertility preferences; knowledge of sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, and hygiene practices; attitudes towards gender-bias, agency and decision making; parental interactions; digital literacy and financial literacy. We will also examine the impact on their level of awareness and shifts in attitudes towards welfare parameters such as child protection, sexual well-being, gender-equality, etc.