Promoting Young Women’s Inclusion

AGI Lessons Learned

Project activities should be held at safe and convenient times and locations, based on an understanding of young women's time and mobility constraints. Girls and young women have many responsibilities, including cooking, cleaning, fetching water and firewood, and caring for their own children, siblings, and elders. In many settings, young women's movements beyond the domestic sphere are restricted due to real or perceived threats. Projects should diagnose these constraints and adjust the project design accordingly.

Stipends have tradeoffs—while they may allow the poorest girls to participate, they can also create adverse incentives. Some participants might be motivated by the money rather than the project goals. Stipends should be designed carefully so as to provide just enough compensation so that vulnerable girls are not excluded, without unduly incentivizing participation and incurring burdensome program costs.

Ensure that putting cash in the hands of young women does not risk their safety—use of mobile money is a promising delivery mechanism. Ensure that stipends are safely delivered to young women and remain in their control. In Liberia and Rwanda, for example, the project assisted girls to open savings accounts to safely store their stipends. In Haiti, the project delivered stipends through mobile money to avert theft or violence to the recipients.

Childcare services can increase young women’s ability to suceed in an employment project. Although the additive effect of these services has not been rigorously evaluated, experience suggests that in some contexts, childcare can have dramatic impacts on young women's participation and productivity in projects. Childcare in youth employment projects may also be an important entrypoint for instilling parenting skills and making gains in early childhood development (ECD).

Make informed decisions about offering childcare-based demographic data, an analysis of the local supply of services, and direct consultations with young women. Youth employment projects should determine whether or not childcare is a binding constraint for young women's participation. Projects that do not consider childcare responsibilities may be implicitly targeting better-off young women who can afford other arrangements or young women who do not have children.

Childcare can be included in skills training projects at a relatively low cost. For instance, the monthly per student cost was less than US $5.00 in Liberia. Depending on the project context, childcare can be an affordable project component and well worth the cost when trying to reach vulnerable young women.

Skills training projects should schedule activities at convenient times and locations for young women, based on a diagnosis of their time use patterns and mobility constraints. Many AGI trainings were held twice daily in morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate trainees' busy schedules. Some youth may already be involved in economic activities, so participating in the program may actually reduce their income in the short-term. AGI pilots in Haiti, Liberia and Rwanda provided stipends that were tied to attendance and punctuality to offset participation costs, including transportation costs and foregone income. To promote trust, stipends should be administered regularly and delivered through a transparent mechanism. In Haiti, the project delivered stipends through mobile money to ensure timely delivery and deter theft or violence acts against the recipient.

Project design should actively take steps to prevent violence from occurring and be prepared to respond if violence does occur. In many countries, sexual and gender-based violence is extremely common—particularly in post-conflict and post-disaster settings. Skills training projects can inadvertently expose young women to new risks from trainers or during travel to and from training. Entering the world of work can also expose young women to harassment or violence from customers or employers. They also may face backlash from male partners or family members, or pressure to relinquish their earnings. Projects should take care not to expose young women to undue risk of stigmatization or rejection by their peers, families, and communities, particularly when entering male-dominated fields.

Preventing and Responding to Violence

Strategy Resources and Tools

Conduct a safety scan or community mapping exercise to understand where young women are safe and unsafe—both physically and emotionally—and use this to inform the program design.

Tool icon Mobility Mapping Exercises
Engage communities, families, husbands, and boyfriends in the project through community mobilization and sensitization activities.  

Ensure that the program is held at a time of day when it is safe for young women to travel, and that the physical space where the program is held is a “safe space." For example, the space should be:

  • Conveniently located for trainees
  • Respectful of privacy and confidentiality
  • Safe from physical, sexual, and emotional threats
  • Culturally appropriate and acceptable to parents/caretakers
Resource icon Guidance Note on Creating and Maintaining Safe Spaces
Help young women make a plan to travel to and from the program sites safely (for example, to travel in groups, identify safe passage routes, and so on). Tool icon Liberia Keeping Safe Handout
Prioritize female classroom trainers. Having empowered adult women in the room can help prevent classroom violence from occurring, and when violence does occur (either inside or outside the classroom), young women may be more comfortable reporting these experiences to other women. Tool icon Liberia EPAG Excerpt from the Service Provider ToR
Sensitize key project staff, particularly those who are in direct contact with beneficiaries, on how to prevent and respond to violence.  
Establish codes of conduct for the project staff that include Anti-Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) elements. Conduct reference checks for new staff. Tool icon Facilitator Code of Conduct

Conduct sensitivity trainings for employers to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

Resource icon Liberia EPAG SEA PPT Presentation to Service Providers
Organize young women to work in pairs or groups during the classroom training and on the job or in their businesses. Resource icon Liberia EPAG Team Approach
Educate young women so that they are: aware of what gender-based violence is; understand their own human and legal rights; and know what to do and who to turn to if violence occurs. Include life skills training modules on VAWG prevention, conflict resolution strategies, negotiation skills, and so on. Rights education is particularly important for young people (male and female) who are entering into wage employment for the first time. Tool icon Liberia EPAG Facilitator’s Tip Guide

Create a resource list and referral network for project staff to be able to respond quickly if violence occurs. Directories can include names and contact information for safe referrals to the SGBV Crimes Unit, police stations and depots, legal referrals, counseling services, hospitals, and clinics, and so on. Such referral guides can also provide links to the many other services that young women need, such as prenatal care, STI and HIV testing, family planning services, microfinance institutions, computer labs, libraries, and so on.

Resource icon Liberia EPAG Referral Document

Provide counseling or psychosocial services as part of the project. In Rwanda, for example, the project contracted with the Centre Psychothérapeutique Icyizere (CPI) to train two staff members from each AGI training center to be able to help identify cases for referrals, and to have capacity to handle minor cases of trauma or abuse. CPI provided periodic refresher trainings and routine monitoring to the centers.  

Tool icon Rwanda Psychosocial Service Provider ToR

In contexts where childbearing begins early, projects should consider integrating or linking to childcare services. Lack of affordable childcare can prevent poor young mothers without strong family and social support systems from participating in skills training projects. Accessible childcare services can increase young women’s training participation rates and their productivity (in terms of decreased absenteeism and retention); there may also be benefits for children’s development outcomes. The design and delivery of childcare services will depend on the particular options available in the project location.

Services can be delivered through:

  • Direct delivery of the childcare services by skills training providers
  • Community-based informal childcare arrangements
  • Vouchers/payments for private service providers
  • Childcare facilities in markets (if training is provided in marketplaces)
Childcare Services
Strategy Rationale Tools and Resources

Diagnose the supply and demand for childcare services, including by consulting directly with young women in the project

Diagnostic work is needed to understand the prevalence of motherhood among the target population and to assess the need for services. Diagnostic work should also consider the local supply of childcare services to make informed decisions about the program design.

  • In South Sudan, the AGI included childcare at some (but not all) of the livelihood training sites, depending on the availability of other means in the communities.
  • In Rwanda, many rural participants prefer to leave their children at home rather than traveling with them to the training site.

Tool icon Liberia EPAG Girls' Vulnerability Assessment ToR

Resource icon Liberia EPAG Girls’ Vulnerability Assessment

Determine the appropriate delivery system for the context

In areas with a healthy supply of public or private childcare providers, it might be more cost-effective to offer vouchers rather than to establish new services.

  • In Liberia the preferred model is for onsite care at all of the training centers; after the first training round, the uptake of services was higher when childcare was provided onsite. The designated childcare rooms are near the training classrooms (to accommodate lactating mothers), but are not in the same room where the training is conducted.
Resource icon AGI Learning from Practice Note on Childcare
Establish eligibility criteria for the participants and for the childcare providers

It is important to establish criteria for both the participants and the providers to maintain a quality program and keep the scope manageable.

  • In Liberia, EPAG provides onsite childcare to children up to age five. Each EPAG trainee is limited to a maximum of two of her own children. The project developed a clearly defined ToR for childcare providers to ensure that basic qualifications were met.
Tool icon Liberia EPAG Childcare ToR
Carefully define basic quality standards for childcare services and enforce the standards through routine monitoring

Provide refresher training to the caregivers on various topics throughout the program cycle
EPAG carefully defined basic quality standards, for example, requiring service providers to ensure that each childcare venue has clean water, soap, a first aid kit, clean mattresses, blankets, towels, toys, and snacks. EPAG’s quality monitors make routine, unannounced monitoring visits to ensure that the service providers are in compliance. The EPAG project has recently been reviewed to assess the quality of the childcare services provided at the training sites and to make low-cost recommendations to improve the delivery of this service for the next training round.

Resource icon Liberia EPAG Childcare Guidelines

Tool icon Liberia EPAG Refresher Training Playtime Handout

For more information on the gender-sensitive features of the AGI, see: AGI Learning from Practice Note on Girl-Friendly Youth Employment Programs | World Bank | 2012.

For more information on childcare in the AGI, see: AGI Learning from Practice Note on Including Childcare in Youth Employment Projects | World Bank | 2014.

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