The Girl Empower program was implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in 56 communities in Nimba County, Liberia from February to November 2016. 772 girls aged 13-14 years old participated in a mentorship program during which groups of 6 to 20 girls met on a weekly basis. Young female mentors from the community facilitated these weekly sessions and guided the girl participants through a 32-week life skills curriculum. The Girl Empower program aimed to equip adolescent girls with the skills and experiences necessary to make healthy, strategic life choices and to stay safe from sexual violence. It also tested the additional impact of a conditional cash transfer paid to families, based on a girl’s attendance at mentorship sessions.
This rigorous impact evaluation of the Girl Empower program demonstrates 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 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.