Evaluating the Impact of a Girls’ Empowerment Program in Liberia

Girl Empower is an innovative program designed to equip girls with the skills and experiences necessary to make healthy, strategic life choices and to stay safe from sexual exploitation and abuse. The Girl Empower program includes mentoring, asset building (life skills, financial literacy, and savings) and caregiver discussion groups.  The IRC implemented the intervention in both Liberia and Ethiopia and conducted an impact evaluation in Liberia. 

Girl  Empower  was implemented  in two treatment  variations, called “GE”  and “GE+”. Both GE and GE+  consisted of 1) Girl Empower life  skills curriculum, 2) facilitated by  young female mentors from the community  in safe spaces; 3) Caregiver discussion groups,  facilitated by IRC staff; 4) Individual savings start-up for the girls; and 5) Capacity building for local health and psychosocial service providers. In the GE+ variation, the IRC added a participation incentive payment for the girls’ attendance in the program sessions, paid to their parents (conditional cash transfer).  This rigorous impact evaluation of the Girl Empower program demonstrated that:

  • Adolescent girls in Nimba County, Liberia, are exposed to staggeringly high rates of sexual violence. 
  • The Girl Empower program filled a need in the community.  Attendance rates of girls and their parents, even outside  of the group that received the conditional cash transfer, were high over a period of 32 weekly sessions.
  • Girl Empower reduced rates  of child marriage,  teen pregnancies, and  risky sexual behaviors, all of which were sustained one year after the end of the program.
  • Girl Empower plus the cash incentive for participation (conditional cash transfer) reduced the likelihood of marriage and the number of sexual partners in the past 12 months and increased the sexual abstinence and condom use in the past 12 months by more than 50% compared to Girl Empower alone.
  • Girl  Empower equipped adolescent females with important life skills and positively influenced gender attitudes.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.