Empowering Girls and Young Women: What Works

 Dana Smillie / World Bank

When Laila returned home from school in rural Yemen, she did not expect what her father, Nasser, had in store for her: a husband, a much older husband.

​Tears, screams, and cries did not help. The 13 year-old girl was threatened with being beaten and even killed if she resisted. So she gave up her cries and surrendered to be forcibly married, as she told UNICEF recently.

“I was helpless. It was like a nightmare. I saw my world crashing around me,” said Laila. “I wanted the nightmare to end so I could be back at school with my friends.”

Laila is an example of girls who face and endure several crises in different parts of the world, mostly in developing countries. International organizations have been relentlessly addressing these crises and working hard on finding solutions that can provide better chances to the victims and even prevent a crisis before it happens.

The World Bank has recently released new briefs that shed new light on what works in development interventions targeting girls and young women, who still account for a disproportionate share of the world’s poor.

One brief explains that programs effective in delaying marriage do so by supporting girls’ educational attainment, increasing their perceived value, and expanding their opportunities. Another shows that structural interventions combined with individual and family level financial incentives show the greatest promise for improving education outcomes and leveling the playing field for girls.

A third brief finds that implementing comprehensive, interactive interventions in schools and community settings, increasing access to education, and promoting girls’ empowerment all show promise in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes, particularly among adolescents.

The release of the briefs comes in time as the world approaches the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, one of which is promoting gender equality and empowering women.

Educating, empowering, and employing the largest-ever generation of young people is vital to ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity — the World Bank Group's twin corporate goals.

It takes a group effort to do achieve that. How are you participating?

This post was originally published on the World Bank's Youthink Blog.