Gender

Overview

This cross-cutting theme addresses the role that gender plays in shaping economic opportunities, especially for adolescent girls and young women. Understanding the importance of gender in youth economic opportunities programming helps stakeholders identify constraints and opportunities that can increase effective participation levels of both sexes, or determine when sex-specific programs are most appropriate.

Where are we now?

With a population of nearly 7 billion people, adolescent girls, young women, and older women—in their multiple roles as workers, caregivers, and mothers—are critical to sustainable economic development. Talent is one of the most important determinants of competitiveness. Countries that can garner innovation and creativity, and leverage the economic participation of its entire population are more likely to succeed in today’s challenging global landscape. For example, the Nike Foundation found that if young Nigerian women had the same employment rates as young men, the country would add US $13.9 billion annually.1 Thus, the case for empowering girls and young women and leveraging their talent is compelling because it makes both economic and social sense.

Trends and Emerging Practices

  • Girls as young as ten are economic participants in their households and capable of saving.  By recognizing girls as economic participants, organizations can provide them with access to both financial literacy and savings offerings they require to mitigate risk later in life.
  • Investing in young women pays off for their families as well. Women invest 90% of their earnings back into their families compared to men who invest 30% or 40%.2
  • Girls who are less financially dependent are at less risk of HIV infection and negative effects of early pregnancy and child bearing.
  • Adolescent girls and young women must be differentiated. Girls face unique challenges and are at distinct developmental and life stages that need tailored programming. There are very few studies or statistics that paint an accurate picture of the lives of girls and the impacts of programs on them and their communities.
  • Disaggregation of data by both age and gender shows evidence for more effective program investments. Studies by groups, such as the Population Council, indicate that many organizations inadvertently favor older and male youth participants in their programs, many of whom have already benefitted from support. Married and less visible young women, on the other hand, are often unable to access programs. 
  • Any program designed to benefit young women should take into consideration what needs to happen with community stakeholders, the role of men and boys in that community, and what kinds of strategies will ensure girls benefit from the program and gain support of the community to thrive in ways that may challenge cultural and societal norms.
  • For very vulnerable young women – diversifying income sources, developing self-confidence, and acquiring assets in the form of savings are likely better indicators of improvement than income itself.

Gender: Blogs

Skills for Youth Employment: How and for Whom?

R4D recently hosted a panel discussion about the skills that students in developing countries need to excel in the labor market, along with innovative models for delivering those skills at the secondary level. The conversation covered macro issues (for instance, how to scale, how to engage policymakers, how to move successful pilots into the hands of local governments) and the precise skills that youth should acquire to meet the needs of employers.

Boko Halal -- Education Is Good

The shocking kidnap of more than 200 girls in northern Nigeria has focused global attention on the dangers faced by young women in Africa. Like millions around the world, I hope and pray for their safe return.

The aim of militants such as Boko Haram, whose very name means "Western education is a sin," is to sew hatred and enmity between Muslim and Christian communities, which have co-existed largely peacefully for generations. Education, in particular the education of women, is a threat to Boko Haram's goals. That is why the group carried out this appalling act.

Three Ways to Bridge the Employability Gap in the Developing World

Re-posted with permission from R4D:

What are the skills needed for employability in the 21st century economy? And what innovative models are needed to deliver these skills to students?

Celebrating Progress, Remaining Steadfast and Asking What’s Next for Girls’ Education

Over the past two decades there have been major improvements in girls’ education. In 1990, less than 50 percent of girls in low-income countries were enrolled in primary school; today that figure has climbed to nearly 80 percent. However, much work remains to be done. Thirty million girls still miss out on basic education, and the challenge for those that now attend school is that they learn while there. Indeed, 250 million children cannot read or write, even after many of them have spent four years in school.

Resource Type: 
Video/Audio

Becoming a Man (BAM) - Sports Edition Findings

While non-academic or “social-cognitive” skills are important predictors of student outcomes, schools (particularly secondary schools) devote little explicit attention to such skills after the first few grades–perhaps partly because of uncertainty about whether these types of skills are actually amenable to policy intervention. A randomized field experiment in the Chicago Public Schools assigned 2,740 disadvantaged males in grades 7-10 to one year of social-cognitive skill development through in-school and after-school programming, or to a control group.

Resource Type: 
Case Study

Testing "What Works in Youth Employment”: Evaluating Kenya’s Ninaweza Program (Pt.1)

This report presents the findings of an impact evaluation conducted for the Ninaweza program in Kenya. The report discusses the effectiveness of this comprehensive employability skills program model, which focused on information and communication technologies and life skills training for young women living in Nairobi's informal settlements.

Resource Type: 
Report