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Providing access to economic assets for girls and young women in low-and-lower middle income countries: a systematic review of the evidence

What do we want to know?

This review addresses the following questions:

  1. What is the impact of economic asset-building and/or protecting programmes for girls in low- and lower-middle income countries, and fragile states? and
  2. What are girls and young women's views and experiences of participating in asset-building and/or protecting programmes in low- and lower-middle-income countries, and fragile states?

Who wants to know and why?

The review has been informed by the commissioners and relevant policy-makers at DfID and substantive topic specialists in the field of gender and economics in developing countries, from organisations like the Overseas Development Institute, the Population Council and the IDS (Institute of Development Studies).

The aim of this review was to identify interventions which attempt to address the economic barriers faced by girls and young women, in low- and lower-middle income countries, and fragile states. The hypothesis is that if interventions both provide direct access to economic assets for young girls and tackle the wider social issues which impede girls and young women's opportunities to access, build and protect economic assets, this will (i) support their immediate economic, social and psychological well-being (ii) improve their chances of economic success through the accumulation and control of economic assets and (iii) potentially help girls and young women to reframe/change wider social/societal relations.

What did we find?

There is a modest but growing evidence base to suggest that providing girls and young women with access to economic assets and developing their skill sets may improve their ability to generate an income, increase the amount they can save, support their participation in school, and increase their sexual health knowledge.

However, claims that this will increase their economic standing in society overall, lead to better further educational or career choices or improve long-term sexual health outcomes, as adults, cannot be made. Meanwhile the studies reporting on girls and young women’s views suggest that social, practical and financial support is required if they are to maintain safe and active economic participation in society. In addition, further consideration of their experiences of economic asset building interventions should be assessed during programme participation to ensure interventions are more likely to be successful.

How did we get these results?

A systematic search of the international literature was conducted. A total of 18 relevant studies examining interventions to increase access to or protect economic assets for girls and young women in low- and lower-middle-income countries, and fragile states were critically appraised and explored in-depth. The included studies evaluated the following types of economic asset interventions:

  • Educational incentives
  • Livelihood programmes
  • Reproductive health programmes. 

The EPPI Centre reference number for this report is 2009.

This report should be cited as:

Dickson K, Bangpan M (2012) Providing access to economic assets for girls and young women in low-and-lower middle income countries: a systematic review of the evidence. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London
ISBN: 978-1-907345-38-8

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