Global Resources

Strong girls, powerful women: program planning and design for adolescent girls in humanitarian settings

Author: K. Paik
Publisher: Women's Refugee Commission
Publication Date: Jun 2014

In collaboration with implementing partners, the Women’s Refugee Commission tested promising approaches in adolescent girls’ programming by applying the learning from development contexts in pilot programmes in three displacement settings. The initiative explored alternative means of empowerment to protect adolescent girls by establishing safe places as portals where displaced girls can build confidence and agency while gaining critical skills for their future livelihoods.

The report synthesises the findings from desk research and key informants interviews, in-country assessments from the refugee camps in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda, and the learning to date from the pilot programmes. This document is intended to help humanitarian practitioners more effectively identify and address the unique needs of adolescent girls in displacement and crisis settings. It also provide donors and policy makers who have the ability to drive change in humanitarian programming, with guidance on how to make sustainable impact with adolescent girls.

This report first provides an introduction to why the needs and capacities of adolescent girls in humanitarian settings should be taken into account, before presenting the methodology for the research. The report then continues with the findings from the initiative: approaches and promising practices in adolescent girls’ programming undertaken across various contexts as well as the initial learning from the three pilot programmes. Lastly, drawing on the research to date, the report presents a range of strategies and options for humanitarian actors to consider when planning and designing programmes for adolescent girls, and more generally when working with adolescent girls in crisis settings.

Key recommendations include:

• Allocate a sufficient start-up period to allow time for staff training and consultations with girls, and to adjust tools for learning activities.

• Maintain a focus on girls as the primary beneficiaries.

• Create safe-places to bring girls together.

• Build mentorship and leadership models into programmes.

• Integrate programmes with economic strengthening activities.

• Ensure programmes are developmentally and contextually appropriate.

• Involve men and boys in programmes as partners and allies for changing gender norms.