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Adolescent girls' capabilities in Bangladesh: The state of the evidence on programme effectiveness

Narayan Debnath/DFID


Maria Stavropoulou
Rachel Marcus
Emma Rezel
Nandini Gupta-Archer
Caroline Noland

Publication type:
Evidence reviews and evidence digests
Date: December 2017

This rapid country evidence review brings together key evidence on the effectiveness of interventions seeking to support the capability development of Bangladeshi adolescent girls (aged 10-19). Produced to feed into the design of GAGE’s longitudinal impact evaluation and as a resource for researchers, programme designers and policy makers, this mapping draws on 165 studies—48 of which are impact studies and evaluations. As a living document to be updated as necessary, it lays out current evidence on “what works” to support girls’ education and learning; bodily autonomy, integrity and freedom from violence; sexual and reproductive health, health and nutrition; psychosocial wellbeing; voice and agency; and economic empowerment.

Our mapping found that of the examined impact studies and evaluations, only twenty one could be considered rigorous. Most critically, nearly all had short time frames—and were conducted soon after projects ended—and few delineated between different age groups to ascertain whether some types interventions work best for younger or older girls.

Evidence suggests that overall it is easier to improve knowledge and shift attitudes than it is to change behaviours. For example, interventions have been successful at helping girls learn about sexual and reproductive health, teaching families and communities about the marriage law, and providing girls with vocational skills. There is less evidence, however, that programme participation increases contraceptive uptake, reduces the odds of child marriage, or impacts labour market participation.

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