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Adolescent girls' capabilities in Nepal: The state of the evidence

Adolescent girls study in Nepal. Photo: Jim Holmes/AusAID.


Alex Cunningham
Madeleine D'Arcy

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

Produced as a resource to inform GAGE programming and to be used by researchers, programme designers and policy makers, this rapid evidence review brings together key evidence from over 300 thematic studies on Nepali adolescent girls (aged 10-19). As a living document to be updated as necessary, it lays out what is known — and identifies what is not known — about girls’ capability development as delineated by the six domains of the GAGE conceptual framework: 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 the evidence on Nepali girls’ capabilities is broad, albeit especially focused on particular topics— namely education, child marriage, and sexual and reproductive health. It also found that adolescent girls are rarely disaggregated from the larger populations of children or adult women, meaning that we know relatively less about their gender- and age-specific needs.

Nepali girls’ have made significant, though uneven, progress in recent years. For example, marriage before the age of 15 is now quite rare (4%) and girls are more likely to attend school than boys. On the other hand, due in large part to the volume of household work that girls are expected to complete, they are far less likely than boys to pass the School Leaving Certificate exam (41% vs 54%). In addition, adolescent-driven “love” marriages are becoming more common even as arranged marriages become less so. Girls from some regions (e.g. the Terai) and some castes (e.g. Dalits) have seen particularly little progress.

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