On 3 December we had the opportunity to discuss some of the emerging findings from the baseline data collection for GAGE, especially regarding very young adolescents (10-12 years). The day provided an opportunity to have country research partners present some of findings to both practitioners and policy makers – to hone in on issues that have emerged as key, and to how they relate to the achievement of the SDGs.
The event was opened by Dr Sara Pantuliano, ODI’s Acting Executive Director, who highlighted the unique nature of GAGE’s research, focusing on ensuring we shed light on the most vulnerable and marginalised, our wide range of emerging outputs and our commitment to ensuring that our research is in the hands of policy makers and practitioners. Two key note speakers followed: H.E. Dr Hailemichael Aberra Afework, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the UK, who spoke about Ethiopia’s commitment and work in improving the lives of adolescent girls and young women; and Professor Charlotte Watts, DFID’s Chief Scientific Advisor, who noted GAGE’s innovative research methods, and why these and an evidence-based approach are crucial for DFID’s work.
Our Director, Dr Nicola Jones, provided a short overview of the research methods we use, to set the scene for four panel presentations to explore and discuss the policy implications of the emerging GAGE research findings. The first panel focused on very young adolescents’ access to inclusive and equitable quality education, voice and agency and protection from exploitation, with presentations from Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Nepal. The second panel explored very young adolescents’ health, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial wellbeing and freedom from violence, with presentations from Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Nepal. The third, exploring Leaving No One Behind and very young married adolescent girls, adolescent mothers and divorced adolescent girls’ experiences and perspectives from Gaza, Jordan, Ethiopia and Bangladesh. The forth, exploring Leaving No One Behind and very young migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons experiences from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Jordan and Nepal.
Following this we engaged in a group discussion to review change strategies to tackle SDG gaps, paying particular attention to the importance of legal and systems changes, empowering girls and engaging with boys/ young men and engaging with communities and service providers. The event concluded with a reception with final remarks from Lakshmi Sundaram, Chief Executive of Girls Not Brides and Dr Anju Malhotra, Principal Adviser, Gender and Development, UNICEF.