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                  THE GIRL
                   What Happens
                   When You Invest
                    in Empowering
                   Adolescent Girls?

       An Exploration of the Impact
      of the Girls’ Empowerment and
            Management Project

          What Happens
         When You Invest
          in Empowering
         Adolescent Girls?

             An Exploration of the Impact
of the Girls’ Empowerment and Management Project
                 September 2008
                   Pact Ethiopia
                                           TABLE OF CONTENTS
                                           TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...................................................................................................................5
II. INTRODUCTION..............................................................................................................................7
         Project background........................................................................................................8
         Methodology.................................................................................................................... 9
         ADOLESCENT GIRLS? ......................................................................................................10
         Stakeholder Capacity Building ...................................................................................10
         Girls’ Empowerment Advisory Committee............................................................10
         Outreach To Parents And Caregivers.....................................................................12
         Community Education Outreach..............................................................................12
         Provision Of Financial Support..................................................................................13
         Assistance In Establishing Savings Mechanisms ......................................................13
         Vocational Skills Training ............................................................................................14
         Entrepreneurial Training .............................................................................................14
         Tutorial Classes ............................................................................................................15
         Life Skills Training.........................................................................................................16
         Female Role Modeling .................................................................................................17
         Exposure Visits..............................................................................................................17
         School Club Strengthening .........................................................................................18
         Holistic Empowerment Interventions For Girls....................................................18
         Increase In The Quality Of Nutrition ......................................................................19
         Improved Personal Hygiene And Sanitation...........................................................19
         Increased Use Of Modern Health Facilities............................................................20
         Decrease In The Need To Engage In Labor And Income Generation.............21
         Increased Ability To Manage Money ........................................................................22
         Increased Ability To Save ...........................................................................................22
         Increased Support Of Girls’ Family Members........................................................23
V. WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF INVESTING IN GIRLS’ EDUCATION?..................................25
         Minimization Of Rate Of Absence In School .........................................................25
         Increased Time Available For Academics ...............................................................25
         Increased Access To Supplementary Learning Materials.....................................26
         Increased Contact Time With Teachers.................................................................26
         Increased Participation In Class.................................................................................26
         Reduction Of Drop-Out And Failure Rates...........................................................27
         Increased Success Rates In 10th Grade Exit Exam.................................................27
         Improvement In Academic Performance ................................................................28
VI. WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF INVESTING IN GIRLS’ LIFE SKILLS?.....................................30
         Increased Demonstration Of Confidence And Communication Skills.............30
         Improved Decision-Making, Resilience And Problem-Solving Abilities ............31
         Increased Demonstration Of Leadership................................................................31
         Increased Ability To Manage Time ...........................................................................32
         Increased Knowledge Of Life Skills Issues ..............................................................33

          Increased Ability To Address Culturally Sensitive Issues....................................33
          Greater Demonstration Of Choice In Reproductive Health Decisions..........34
          Increased Ability To Protect Oneself From Gender-Based Violations ............34
          Demonstration Of Ability To Compete With Boys.............................................35
          Change In Girls’ Goals And Aspirations For The Future....................................35
VII. WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF STRENGTHENING GIRL ENABLERS? ..................................37
          Change In Caregiver Support For Girls’ Education..............................................37
          Change In Family Expectations About Girls’ Futures...........................................38
          Change In Male Behavior And Male Violation Of Girls’ Rights..........................38
          Enhanced Capacity Of School-Based Institutions To Support Girls’ Causes..39
          Strengthened Relationship With Networks Of Local Institutions ....................39
         EMPOWERMENT EFFORTS?...........................................................................................41
          Orphans And Girl-Headed Households..................................................................41
          Mothers And Married Girls .......................................................................................41
          Pastoral Girls .................................................................................................................42
          Regional Operating Context......................................................................................42
          Gambella Academics....................................................................................................43
          Girls Serve As Role Models And Educators Of Their Peers..............................45
          Girls’ Progress Incited Competition… As Well As Jealousy Among Peers....45
          Greater Engagement Of Girls In Community Service .........................................46
          Change Of Girls’ Roles In The Family Context.....................................................47
          Change Of Girls’ Roles In The Context Of Household Finances .....................48
          Girls Gain Influence As Conflict Resolvers ............................................................49
          Girls Stand Up Against Rights Violations ................................................................49
          Perception Of Girls’ Increased Ability To Influence Societal Change ..............50
EMPOWERING GIRLS? .........................................................................................................................51
          Committed Individuals ................................................................................................51
          Institutional Support ....................................................................................................51
          Rewards ..........................................................................................................................52
           EMPOWERING GIRLS?....................................................................................................53
          Inadequate Institutional Support ...............................................................................53
          Inability To Overcome Prevailing Cultural Norms...............................................53
          Size And Influence Of Target Group .......................................................................54
          Holistic Empowerment Efforts Are Key .................................................................56
          Invest Resources In Underserved Regions .............................................................56
          Refine The Beneficiary Selection Process ...............................................................57
          Intervene At A Younger Age Before Girls Are Married Or Drop Out ..........57
          Support Girls Through The Completion Of A Schooling Cycle .......................58
          Clearly Identify Transition Strategy From The Start ............................................58
          Streamline The Functioning Of Committees .........................................................59
          Strengthen Income-Generating Capacity Of Girls’ Families ...............................59

        Build The Income-Generating Capacity Of Girls ..................................................60
        Substitute In-Kind School Materials Support For Cash Provision.....................61
        Increase Financial Management Training And Closely Monitor How Girls
            Spend Money...........................................................................................................61
        Develop Timely, Inexpensive Methods For Assessing Markets .........................62
        Involve The Private Sector .........................................................................................62
        Link With Like-Minded Economic Strengthening Activities................................62
        Strengthen Academic Component Of The Program By Enhancing
            Tutorial Quality ......................................................................................................63
        Institute Safe Havens And Special Library Hours For Girls................................63
        Link With Tertiary Education Institutions ..............................................................64
        Encourage Group Housing .........................................................................................64
        Enlarge The Ripple Of ‘The Girl Effect’ By Disseminating Gem Benefits
            Across Wider Portion Of The Student Body..................................................64
        Capitalize On Human Capacity That Has Already Been Built ...........................64
        Place Greater Emphasis On Strengthening Girl Enablers In The Community65
        Scale Up ..........................................................................................................................66
XIII.   FROM PAPER INTO ACTION........................................................................................68
XIV.    ANNEXES .............................................................................................................................69
        List Of Data Collection Sites .....................................................................................69

                               II.. EXECUTIIVE SUMMARY
                                    EXEC U T VE S U M MAR Y
This qualitative and quantitative evaluation sought to test whether the Nike Foundation’s Formula
for Change, ‘The Girl Effect’ applied in the case of Pact’s Ethiopia’s implementation of the Girls’
Empowerment and Management Project.

Pact Ethiopia’s Girls Empowerment and Management (GEM) Project sought to empower 500
secondary school girls in three regions who were committed to academics, but whose life
circumstances put them at risk of not completing secondary school. The project had several
objectives: to support adolescent girls to meet their basic financial needs so that they can continue
their education and complete secondary school; to increase their leadership and life skills; to
strengthen their academic abilities, and to build the capacities of institutions that support secondary
school girls including girls’ clubs, school administrators, school committees, families and a host of
other bodies.

Pact’s study assessed the effectiveness of various interventions for girls including:
stakeholder capacity building, Girls’ Empowerment Advisory Committees, outreach to
parents and caregivers, community education outreach, provision of financial support,
assistance in establishing savings mechanisms, vocational skills training, entrepreneurial
training, tutorial classes, life skills training, mentoring, female role modeling, exposure visits,
school club strengthening.

It also analyzed the impact of holistic empowerment interventions for girls, in the differing
sectoral areas of girls’ lives. After investing economically in girls, girls demonstrated:
increase in the quality of nutrition, improved personal hygiene and sanitation, increased use
of modern health facilities, decrease in the need to engage in labor and income generation,
increased ability to manage money, increased ability to save, and increased economic
support of girls’ family members.

After two years of investing educationally, participating adolescent girls demonstrated:
minimization of rate of absence in school, increased time available for academics, increased
access to supplementary learning materials, increased contact time with teachers, increased
participation in class, reduction of drop-out and failure rates; increased success rates in 10th
grade exit exam, and improvement in academic performance.

After significant investment in life skills training and capabilities, girls demonstrated:
increased demonstration of confidence and communication skills: improved decision-making,
resilience and problem-solving abilities: increased demonstration of leadership, increased
ability to manage time, increased knowledge of life skills issues, increased ability to address
culturally sensitive issues, greater demonstration of choice in reproductive health decisions,
increased ability to protect oneself from gender-based violations, demonstration of ability to
compete with boys, and changes in girls’ goals and aspirations for the future.

After investing in building the skills and capabilities of individuals and institutions that
support girls’ progress, Pact found that these girl-enablers demonstrated: change in
caregiver support for girls’ education, change in family expectations about girls’ futures,
change in male behavior and male violation of girls’ rights, enhanced capacity of school-

based institutions to support girls’ causes, and strengthened relationship with networks of
local institutions.

Pact found that distinct profiles of girls were impacted differently by empowerment efforts.
Some of these profiles included: orphans and girl-headed households, mothers and married
girls, pastoral girls, and girls living within under-served regional operating contexts. The
evaluation also demonstrated that the ‘The Girl Effect’, in terms of investments in
adolescent girls rippling out to others, was effected in the following way: girls became role
models and educators of their peers; girls’ progress incited competition… as well as
jealousy among peers; girls engaged in increased community service; girls’ roles in the family
context changed; girls’ roles in the context of household finances changed; girls gained
influence as conflict resolvers; girls stood up against rights violations; and perception among
others regarding girls’ ability to influence societal change increased.

Pact found that the following operating conditions served as ‘change triggers’ in the process
of empowering girls: committed individuals, strong institutional support, and rewards that
held value for those participating directly or indirectly in the program. The evaluation
concluded that the following factors served as ‘change blockers’ in the in the process of
empowering girls: inadequate institutional support, inability to overcome prevailing cultural
norms, small size and influence of target group.

In future empowerment efforts, Pact recommends to: undertake empowerment efforts
that are holistic in approach; invest resources in underserved regions; refine the beneficiary
selection process; intervene at a younger age before girls are married or drop out; support
girls through the completion of a schooling cycle; clearly identify transition strategy from
the start; streamline the functioning of committees; strengthen income-generating capacity
of girls’ families; build the income-generating capacity of girls; substitute in-kind school
materials support for cash provision; increase financial management training and closely
monitor how girls spend money; develop timely, inexpensive methods for assessing
markets; involve the private sector; link with like-minded economic strengthening activities;
strengthen academic component of the program by enhancing tutorial quality; institute safe
havens and special library hours for girls; link with tertiary education institutions; encourage
group housing; enlarge the ripple of ‘The Girl Effect’ by disseminating gem benefits across
wider portion of the student body; capitalize on human capacity that has already been built;
place greater emphasis on strengthening girl enablers in the community; and scale up the
intervention for girls.

                                    IIII.. IINTRODUCTIION
                                             NTRODUCT ON
This study seeks to assess the impact of investing in girls. What strategies were deemed successful
and could they be improved? What are the specific types of impact that investing in girls creates?
What enhances and what mitigates return on this investment?

The assessment first analyzes the effectiveness of various interventions intended to empower girls.
It then documents the cumulative impact of this holistic spread of interventions on the economic,
educational, and life skills development of girls, as well as on the strengthening of girl-enabling
institutions. It also explores how distinct profiles of girls have differing empowerment needs and are
impacted differently by various interventions. The study tracks ripples of the ‘girl effect’, i.e. the way
in which girls are able to influence concentric circles of stakeholders, after being invested in. This
study also explores the factors that trigger and that inhibit change from occurring. In sum, it offers
recommendations to help improve the effectiveness of other girls’ empowerment programs both
within Ethiopia, and beyond.

This assessment seeks to test whether the Nike Foundation’s Formula for Change applied in the
case of Pact’s Ethiopia’s implementation of the Girls’ Empowerment and Management Project. The
purpose of generating this knowledge base is both to enhance the effectiveness of future efforts to
invest in girls in Ethiopia, as well to shed light on the outcomes of girl empowerment programs for
wider supporters of girls’ empowerment. The end goal is to contribute to leveraging international
investment in adolescent girls.

The Girls Empowerment and Management (GEM) Project seeks to empower girls who are
committed to academics, but whose life circumstances put them at risk of not completing secondary
school. The project has several objectives: to support adolescent girls to meet their basic financial
needs so that they can continue their education and complete secondary school; to increase their
leadership and life skills; and to build the capacities of institutions that support secondary school
girls including girls’ clubs, school administrators, school committees, families and a host of other
bodies. GEM supports beneficiary girls through their 9th and 10th grade school years.

Through the GEM project, beneficiary girls received three forms of support: financial support,
academic support and life skills & leadership support. Financially, the girls were provided a
scholarship, which helped to support basic living costs and learning materials, as well as reducing
their need to work outside class time. After completion of 10th coursework, girls engaged in
vocational training. Academically, GEM organized regular tutorial sessions, in order to enhance
girls’ likelihood of succeeding in their coursework.    In the area of life skills, the girls were also
trained in reproductive health, family planning, HIV/AIDS, communication, resilience, and a number
of other areas. Mentoring and guidance counseling services are provided to the girls, as well as
opportunities for exposure visits and role modeling. GEM also supported the wider institutions and
processes that provide ongoing support to empowering girls, including: school clubs, school
committees, counselors, and wider community sensitization to gender issues.

The GEM project was operationalized in fifteen secondary schools in Amhara, Gambella, and the
Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regions (SNNPR) of Ethiopia from March 2006 to
September 2008. In addition to 500 direct beneficiary girls, the project also reached 150 boy
students, 90 school committee and parent/teacher association members, as well as parents,
guardians, community members and other girls through various empowerment activities. GEM was
implemented by Pact Ethiopia, in collaboration with the Forum on Street Children in Ethiopia in
Amhara, Action for Development in SNNPR, and Pact’s sub-office in Gambella. GEM works at the
following secondary schools in the following locations: SNNPR: Jinka Secondary School in Jinka, Goh
Secondary School in Gazer, Konso Secondary School in Konso, Gidole Secondary School in
Derashe, and Fasha Secondary School in Fasha; GAMBELLA: Itang Secondary School in Itang,
Pinyudo Secondary School in Pinyudo, and Abobo Secondary School in Abobo; AMHARA: Kedame
Gebeya Secondary School in Dessie, Hotie Secondary School in Dessie, Adit Secondary School in
Adit, Kombolcha Secondary School in Kombolcha, Merawi Secondary School in Merawi, Tana Hayik
Secondary School in Bahir Dar, Ghion Secondary School in Bahir Dar.

Below follows a conceptual framework depicting how the components of the GEM project worked
together to lead to the end goal of girls’ empowerment. Institutional support components carried
out by a sister project, the Girls’ Empowerment through Sexual Exploitation Termination Project
(GET SET), have been integrated into the last two columns on the far right. GET SET builds the
capacity of girls, as well as law enforcement, health and women’s resource organizations to prevent
and adequately respond to gender-based violence. The following analysis utilizes this conceptual
framework as a guide for analyzing impact of GEM empowerment interventions.

                         CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OF THE

Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to collect data for this assessment. Focus groups
were conducted with students, teachers, parents, committee members and school administrators,
totaling 181 individuals, drawn from eight GEM school sites, including: Pinyudo, Gidole, Jinka, Tana
Hayik, Ghion, Hotie, Kedame Gebeya, and Merawi secondary schools (see annex for further
information). Self-administered surveys were conducted with 400 of the 500 GEM students. Both
primary and secondary sources of information were used to inform the analysis of this report,
including: qualitative interviews, written surveys, site visits, project documentation and stakeholder
meetings and discussion data. The results of this collection and analysis of data are presented

      FOR GIRLS?

This section explores the effectiveness of each of the interventions utilized by the GEM project to
empower girls. The following diagram depicts the intermediate results and extended impact on girls
lives, and how this empowerment ripples out to reach others with whom girls associate.

GEM built the capacity of NGO empowerment workers, school teachers, school administrators,
girls’ empowerment advisory committee members, school counselors, and other stakeholders
through a series of training sessions in the areas of life skills for girls, mentoring, leadership,
resilience, appreciative inquiry, counseling, among others. This training was followed up by ongoing
project supervision and monitoring.

Capacity building seemed to make the most difference in schools, where stakeholders had had few
other opportunities for capacity building. In one Gambella case, investing in school administrators
had an impact on the whole teaching body, in terms of encouraging follow-up and accountability in
carrying out tutoring, community sensitization and club support activities. Project participants in
Amhara had comparatively participated in more capacity building in the past, so the training for
served more of a role of enhancing and refining their ability to support girl students in this region.

Girls' empowerment advisory committees were formed in each participating GEM school. The role
of these committees was to first gather pertinent information on possible target beneficiaries, select
beneficiaries, and later to track the progress of the girls, providing support as necessary.

One school committee tracked the progress of its GEM students by monitoring their transcripts,
rank in class, and amount of time spent studying in the library. While school committees generally
monitored the progress of GEM students, their support was found to be most useful in intervening
in special circumstances, for example, when a girl was being followed and harassed, when her
academic performance was faltering or when domestic burden placed upon girls was hindering
academic performance. These are critical transition points, and committees seemed capable of
helping girls avert negative outcomes.

In a few cases, the committees were effective in coordinating with other school stakeholders and
bodies. For instance, in one school, after a case of sexual harassment, the committee organized
meetings with students, teachers, government officials, and other concerned parties to discuss the
incident and how to better safeguard girls. Schools, particularly in Amhara region, demonstrated
close coordination between committees and clubs and other girl-supporting institutions. However,
schools in the Gambella region indicated that closer coordination needed to be forged between the
girls’ empowerment committee and other girl-supporting institutions.

In many cases, it seemed that one or a handful of members became very active in supporting the
girls’ progress, while other committee members were less active. Complaints arose when people
whose workload was already too much were selected to participate in the committee.

The issue of compensation persistently reappeared in almost every committee. This raised the
question of what degree of voluntarism is expected among girl supporters. Should committee
members be paid incentives? If so, how much? Is this practice sustainable following the phase out of
the project? These topics were the source of heated discussion in focus groups.

I like frankness. As an Ethiopian, I am poor. And others are poor. If there is almost no payment for
committee participants, they have to be motivated. 50 birr per month ($5) is not enough. In fact we will
work for our sisters, it doesn’t matter. But this is not motivating.
- School administrator, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

Though most stakeholders strongly reiterated the desire for greater compensation, a few disagreed
with these assertions.

For girls, as an Ethiopian, we have to sacrifice. Nothing else. It is not money that motivates us. It is our
duty. These children are selected from low economic background, so helping these students is blessing.
- School administrator, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

The issue of compensation also arose with tutorial teachers. One particularly committed member,
who also served as a tutorial teacher, photocopied the written questions of GEM tutorial girls so
that they could use these questions as a study guide. The cost of photocopying was equal to 25% of
his monthly salary of $50. Considering the particularly depressed rate of salaries in Ethiopia, the
issue of compensation warrants dialogue on the part of project funders, project staff and project

Some schools requested more substantive funds for supporting costs of the program, including the
duplication of study materials and costs for tutorials, and inviting and transporting guest role models,
and for this support to continue through the life of the project, not just at the initial phase. While
the GEM project had initially provided these funds, they were discontinued when committees failed
to show receipts for purchases. It is recommended that these costs be funded, channeled through
the girls’ empowerment advisory committee, and that receipt of costs be made dependent on
demonstration of appropriate accounting and use of funds for girls’ empowerment activities.

In certain sites, particularly in Gambella, when school committee members were closely interlinked
with students, various instances occurred when school committee members used undue influence in
biasing selection of beneficiaries to individuals with whom they had personal connections. The
section on recommendations below discusses various suggestions at refining and making the process
of beneficiary selection more transparent.

At the beginning of the Ethiopian academic year, GEM schools conducted consultative meetings with
parents, caregivers, relatives and husbands of beneficiary students. The meetings served to inform
caregivers about the nature of the project, and solicit their cooperation in supporting the girls’
education through minimization of domestic workload and oversight in the appropriate expenditure
of financial support. Parents and caregivers were later invited to attend occasional meetings on the
updates and progress of girl students, with the frequency depending upon the particular GEM site.

Some project stakeholders, usually from the school, parental or committee side, noted that, in
certain sites, parents/caregivers were not closely involved and recommended closer, more regular
contact with parents and caregivers.

Parent’s involvement is important. It is their parents who follow them and control them. In school, we guide
and advise. Outside the school, the role is played by the parents. A greater role should be given to parents.
-School administrator & committee member, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

It is suggested that parents be more intensively involved through community outreach activities, and
more directly enlisted to become stronger advocates of girls’ empowerment.                  Further
recommendations below discuss how to engage parents and caregivers in economic strengthening
activities to empower girls.

GEM students conducted and participated in sensitization and advocacy activities for the school
community and wider community through: convening coffee ceremonies; conducting information
dissemination forums; celebrating national and or international commemorations on girl-related
issues; marching through in street demonstrations on girls’ causes; presenting edu-tainment through
dramas, poems and question-answer competitions; traveling to outlying rural areas for information
dissemination purposes; and racing in the Great Ethiopian Run for Girls’ Education. Some of the
educational issues addressed through these media include awareness-raising on girls’ and women
rights, the need for girls to stay in school, sexual harassment, rape and abduction, harmful traditional
practices, HIV/AIDS testing and prevention, family planning, sanitation and hygiene, and a host of
other issues. GEM girls often collaborated with other stakeholders in their sensitization and
advocacy activities. In collaboration with the woreda Women’s Affairs Office, girls at one school in
the South provided gender relations training to students and community members on ensuring
gender equality and reducing sexual harassment.

This educational outreach is estimated to have reached a large number of people. For instance, a
total of 1000 individuals were estimated to have been present at each school’s Parent’s Day
celebration alone. Many GEM sites were pleased with the broader community awareness that girls
had to be able to generate over two years. However, in some places where the overall
management and support of the project was weak, community awareness was also weak.

Community awareness of the project is very minimal. Some members of the community are yelling to us ‘you
extremist! You are participating in the support scheme only to get the money’.
-Jinka Secondary School student, SNNPR

This phenomenon indicates a larger trend in which the cohesion and active functioning of girl-
enabling institutions has an impact on every aspect of the girls’ progress in the various facets of
empowerment. Further recommendations are discussed in Part XI.

The GEM project provided participating girl beneficiaries with an annual contribution of
approximately $45 at the beginning of each school year to support purchase of uniforms, reference
books, and other school supplies, as well as a monthly stipend of $20 to support the costs of
expendable school supplies and basic sustenance needs of girls.

The many outcomes of increased economic stability are elaborated below in the section on
economic impact. Some of these include: increase in the quality of nutrition; improved personal
hygiene and sanitation; increased use of modern health facilities; decrease in the need to engage in
labor and income generation; increased ability to manage money; increased ability to save; and
increased support of girls’ family members.

However, some stakeholders and project staff observed that, in some cases, students had developed
a sense of dependence after received a monthly stipend for two years.

The project must not be stopped at this point. We are going to back to daily laborer status. At least, you
should have paid us a payment for the last month of August.
-Kedame Gebeya Secondary School Student, Amhara

However, many girls disagreed with this assertion.

I disagree. If the project terminates, it does not mean we lose our hope. It does not mean we are
dependent. We have taken lots of training, including skill training on entrepreneurship, and how to lead a
better life. We have economized ourselves to lead a better life. Even though we are not successful, we
could create jobs and lead in other areas. In addition, we have savings accounts. We can use this to extend
our further education to upper secondary and college levels. We can also try to reinvest that savings in small
micro-enterprise activities.
- Merawi Secondary School Student, Amhara

In addition, in a few select cases in the South, conflict arose between girls and their families, when
the families assumed that since girls were receiving scholarship support, families did not need to
support the girls’ needs. The noteworthy exception to the development of dependence was
demonstrated in Gambella, where girls invested their savings in business and income-generating
activities, like meal preparation, production of local spirits, and purchasing bicycles to rent to those
doing cross-border trade with Sudan. There seems to be a need to balance the immediate goal of
preventing girls from dropping out with the longer term objective of enabling girls to become
economically self-sufficient. Further discussion in the recommendations section discusses how
balancing or transitioning from asset transfer to economic empowerment activities might better
enable similar project endeavors to be sustained over the long term.

Many students were assisted to open bank accounts through the help of project stakeholders. Some
schools helped write formal letters to banks, requesting them to allow girls to use their school
identification cards, if they had not yet reached 18. However, some girls located outside of urban
towns found it too costly to open bank accounts. For example, the transport costs of traveling

from Itang to Gambella town cost 60 birr, which totaled more that the amount the girls had
available to save.

Greater attention should be focused on either a) assisting girls to get access to banks and financial
institutions or b) identifying locally available or traditional savings mechanisms (like sheep and goats)
with some degree of reliability. The involvement of GEM stakeholders should entail helping girls
obtain official registration documents, such as birth certificates and identification cards, if they do
not already have them. This is particularly the case with orphans and girl-headed households.

Following completion of 10th grade coursework, most GEM school sites offer girls vocational skills
training in computer operation, hairdressing and other areas. 392 GEM girls participated in the
training. A marked difference was noted regarding girls’ plans for the future, between the time girls
completed 10th grade without skills training, and by the end of the summer when they had
completed skills training. Before training, many were fearful they would return to destitution after
the cessation of the monthly stipend. By the end of the summer, many girls who had participated in
skills training were confident they could get a job. 21% of girls felt that if they did not pass the 10th
grade exam, they would use the skills training to find employment 1.

Girls, as well as stakeholders, placed great value on the skills building intervention. Although some
felt that a majority of the girls’ time in 9th and 10th grade should be devoted to academics and that
vocational training should start after the 10th grade exit exam, others felt that the girls could have
benefited more if they began training earlier on. Some regretted that they participated in skills
training so late in the project. A few, though not a majority of girls, recommended that some of the
time spent on capacity-building in the project, be shifted to skills training.

In addition to international best practice, the Amhara and Gambella GEM experiences demonstrated
the importance of conducting market assessments before embarking on business development or
skills training activities. Girls recommended that skills training should be developed around their
interests. It was found that, logically, girls responded better to skills training when it corresponded
to their talents and interests. However, in the areas of GEM school sites, few skills training centers
existed. For instance, regardless of potential market demand, one area might be home only to one
hairdressing and computer training institution. There is a need for future iterations of a girls’
empowerment project to provide skills training according to market demand, even when few
existing institutions and facilities exist.

Some girls asked for start-up capital after having undergone training, for instance, receiving a
computer or hairdressing equipment, in order to start a business. It may not be advisable to
provide this equipment gratis, unless it be through the process of a low interest or deferred loan,
through which girls develop a sense of accountability for privileges received.

Mid-term, the GEM project team identified that Gambella girls had very different needs than girls in
other regions. A strategic plan shift was carried out in Gambella, and training was provided to
beneficiary students in Gambella secondary schools on basic business skills. Approximately 90
Gambella girls participated in business skills training together with other women cooperative
members, through a Pact sister project on Community Restoration in Gambella. From this training,
the students acquired introductory knowledge on entrepreneurial, career and income generation

Gambella GEM girls and women vocalized that they greatly benefited from involvement in the
training. At the termination of the project, many of these girls had already started small income
generation activities and had increased the base of their savings. Out of fifteen students in one
focus group, only two had not begun saving. Of those who had accumulated savings, they had saved
or generated from business activities from 300 to 1300 birr ($30-130). This amount was larger,
compared with girls in other regions.

I was thinking, ‘after this program, where will I go?’ At the same time, I took business skills training through
Pact. After that training, I thought of saving 20 birr per month. I later increased this to 30 birr per month.
Once I got to 100% of what I needed, I started a business. I bought plates and now I am serving food. That
idea has helped me. I know how much I can get, how much I saved, how much I can earn. Now I’m in a
better position. If the program stops, I will not stop. I will keep going      - Pinyudo Secondary School
student, Gambella

However, even Gambella girls who took business training were aware of the preeminence of
education as a tool for betterment of their economic status.
This program will end. At the moment, I have bought two bicycles. The reason I bought them is because
business is being done between Pochalla, Sudan and here. These bicycles will be rented by those who are
taking goods to the border. I can buy goods, find someone to ride the bike and then pay him. This is my
economic plan, so that I will be able to help my children. But my future change will not come from business,
only from education. I know that education is the one thing that can change my own and my children’s life. I
will use business to support myself and take care of needs while I am pursuing my studies.
But…academically we need more.
-Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

Since 26% of participating girls in all three regions planned to engage in petty trade if they did not
pass the 10th grade exam 1, it is recommended that business and financial management training be
incorporated, as a mainstreamed intervention into future iterations of girls’ empowerment activities.
Further discussion is found on this recommendation in Part XI.

Girls reported that they had difficulty understanding the content delivered through plasma television
in secondary schools because of a) the speed of delivery and the inability to rewind and rewatch the
program, and b) the level and native speaker pronunciation of the English used to deliver the
broadcasting. They also expressed that their teachers delivered content too fast and that they were
afraid to ask questions. During the tutorial classes, teachers also reviewed the content they had
delivered during the daytime classes, and girls brought questions they did not understand from
teacher lectures or plasma television delivery.

In general, girls reported that the tutorial was extremely helpful in allowing them to review and
better grasp content, and they fared academically better than girls who did not participate in the
tutorial. Girls, parents and the teachers themselves substantiated the helpfulness of the tutorial,
with 370 girls citing it as among the mostly highly valued components of the GEM intervention 1.

However, substantial limitations of tutorials were observed. Some tutorial sessions were observed
in which teachers spoke non-stop and scribbled a repetition of the earlier morning lecture across
the board, without any active engagement of students. Both commitment and timing impacted

tutorial session quality. When the tutorial was scheduled late in the afternoon, some teachers
would end the session before the allotted time period, and girls did not feel safe walking in the dark.

Girls reported that their tutorial classes were more effective when they had input in selecting which
teachers were to deliver the tutorials.       Many suggested that teachers should be chosen who
demonstrate sensitivity to girls’ issues. Some suggested that the tutorial was not long enough, that
teachers were not always consistent in attendance, that teachers should be paid more, and that the
quality of tutorial teachers should be strengthened.

GEM girls participated in training in a number of life skills areas including: HIV/AIDS, family planning,
time management, resilience, leadership, and appreciative inquiry, communication skills, among other
topics. A bulk of the training was conducted through the Youth Action Kit, a series of 30 training
sessions that built girls’ skills in a variety of areas. The approach of these training sessions was
interactive and participatory, greatly contrasting with the teaching methodology the students
experience during daytime formal school classes.

Many found this life skills training to have great impact on their lives, with 364 girls ranking it among
the most valuable of GEM program components 1. The girls particularly valued resilience training.

I observed as principal of school, the participation of students-- they were not fully involved. After the first
life skills training, they began to participate in different clubs, and they tried to express their activities in their
media initiatives. This training also improved their skills; they become really self confident.         -School
administrator, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

150 boys participated in the Youth Action Kit life skills training. After, participating in the training,
these boys were instructed to cascade the training to other club members, which did and did not
occur in various GEM sites. In addition, boys collaborated with girls in reaching out to the
community and in traveling to rural areas to conduct sensitization and awareness-raising.

Empowerment workers employed by GEM implementing NGO partners and school committee
members conducted regular group mentoring sessions with GEM girls every two weeks. These
sessions focused on health-related issues, rights, academic progress and other concerns affecting the
students’ daily lives. Students had the opportunity to receive individual mentoring when need arose.

Most school counseling services were barely operational and students reported that they did not
have recourse to mentoring services before the project began. They found the mentoring
extremely helpful.

Before the project I had no one to consult and did not know where to go.
- Gidole Secondary School student, SNNPR

The students say, ‘We didn’t get this mentoring from our parents. This program is really more than our
moms and our dads for us.         -Parent of Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

When GEM girls were identified as ‘special students’ they received additional attention and
mentoring from a number of corners.

After the program we have gotten special support--not only in school, but even outside. The teachers are
being paid to give us tutorials. But the teachers told us, ‘we are willing to help you. If you have time, we will
give you additional tutorial sessions for free’. Everybody is willing to help us. Everyone’s attention is serious
about supporting us.
- Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

One problem arose in that mentoring was not consistent in all project locations. In remote areas of
the South and in Gambella, long distances, coupled with lack of transport facilities limited the
frequency of mentoring visits by empowerment workers. School committees also differed in their
levels of activity, with a few very committed individuals taking it upon themselves to mentor
regularly, while girls in sites without zealous committee members benefited less.

Throughout the life of the project, GEM sites invited exemplary women, including women in high
government positions, university professors, and female university students to visit girls and share
their life experience and the challenges they had overcome to attain their goals.

Role models seemed to make particular impact in Gambella, where girls had few other examples of
alternative models of women’s roles and livelihoods.

When they see role models, there is some kind of change. They feel, ‘I can do it’.
-Teacher at Pinyudo Secondary School, Gambella

While many agreed that inviting prominent and successful women was useful, some felt this activity
should not stop with just one invitation to deliver a speech to the girls.

If you tell the history of the role model, and you stop there, it may not bring any change.
-School Administrator, Kedame Gebeya Secondary School, Amhara

Exposure visits had a great impact on what girls dreamed was possible for their lives.

I was in a hurry just to complete grade 10, get small training and start supporting myself. Last year, we
visited Addis Ababa University. I changed my plan from that day onwards. I now have a plan to go to
preparatory school and study at the university. I am determined to reach my plan.
- Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

The exposure visit to meet women parliamentarians was particularly useful for girls’ development
and enabled them to see firsthand examples of empowered women beyond what they had been able
to experience in their woreda. In Amhara, the visit to the socialist-styled Awra Amba community
proved to be particularly successful in terms of displaying a new model of gender labor divisions, not
just for participating girls but for parents, guardians and teachers as well. Particularly in Gambella,
girls found the exposure visits world-expanding, because they were able to see women involved in
very different activities from the women in their localities. Teachers and stakeholders saw a
measurable difference in mentality and thinking among those who participated in the exposure visit
and those who did not. However, in most sites, GEM girls that were not in the subset of girls
selected to attend exposure visits experienced a sense of exclusion or division.

It is recommended that the exposure visit component will be continued and elaborated, so that all
GEM participants in a site have the opportunity to participate, rather than a selected few. While
budget is a constraining factor, girls can be chosen to travel at various intervals or with rotating
opportunities from one site to another, in order to maximize girls’ exposure (particularly girls from
the remotest sites), while maintaining budget figures under control. When GEM girls becoming
advocates for girls’ empowerment and becoming involved with the newly established Child
Parliament, they can practice debate, transparency and accountability.

The project strengthened clubs in participating GEM schools, primarily through material support, in
terms of purchasing media broadcasting equipment, costumes or musical instruments and other
items. Teachers who served as Club Focal Persons were engaged in GEM training, and non-GEM
club members were also invited to participate in life skills training and in collaborating on community
sensitization and advocacy activities.

It proved to be effective to coordinate GEM community outreach activities through existing school
clubs, because activities were more likely to be institutionalized and continued upon cessation of the
GEM project. It was also extremely helpful to invite non-GEM students, particularly boys, to
collaborate in GEM training, because they became advocates and girl enablers through the process
of being involved in the training. This component was found to be a valuable asset to expanding
girls’ perception of possibilities. It is recommended that the female role modeling component
continue in future iterations of girls’ empowerment programming.

When asked which aspect of the support to girls was most important, most participants, both girls
and other project stakeholders, felt that the holistic combination of support across skills areas had
the most impact. Survey respondents ranked tutorial, financial and life skills support as almost even,
with tutorial coming slightly ahead of the others 1.

All of the support is equally important. All contributes its own role. The financial support helps those
students who were in a position who were about to drop out of school. It was very important to provide
financial support for those children who came from poor families. The tutorial support was also important to
assist the students’ academic performance. The training provided on different life skills topics, helped those
students to be able to empower themselves in different ways. They began to play leadership roles, became
active in the school environment and so on and so forth. All of this support is interrelated and inseparable in
bringing about empowered girls students who can be models for others.
- School administrator, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

In addition to the holistic integration of interventions, the project was made successful by the
holistic involvement of a number of girl enablers in each of these interventions.

We have said this project is fruitful. It is not only the work of tutors or principals; it is the result of the
guardians, the empowerment workers, the whole project.
- School administrator, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

                V WH AT S TH E MP ACT OF E CO NO M C AL L Y
                              IINVESTIING IIN GIIRLS?
                                NVEST NG N G RLS ?

Economically support girls’ education does not just refer to direct school-related costs. Attending
school incurs a number of indirect costs and the vulnerable girls participating in the GEM project
were also challenged by the overarching constraints of poverty that affected their proximity to
school, health and nutritional status, among other factors. Many girls are obligated to engage in
paid or unpaid labor from which they generate income or receive in-kind sustenance of room and
board. When the GEM project helped girls cope with the economic constraints they faced, the
following effects resulted.

Among these 33 students in the scholarship program, in the beginning, you could see very unpleasant faces
on those girls. They were suffering from lack of food and many other difficulties.
-Tutorial teacher and committee member, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

With the money given to these students, they satisfy their stomachs. Unless they eat something, even though
you give them textbooks and uniforms, it will not help.
- School administrator, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

28% of all GEM participating girls had faced significant challenge in hunger due to lack of adequate
food1. After the project intervention, many noticed a great change in the ability of girls to eat. Some
girls reported that they did not eat breakfast before the start of the intervention, but 56% were now
able to eat three times a day, with 38% eating twice a day. 85% of the girls surveyed felt the quality
of their nutrition had improved 1.

Other girls reported that when their home was far they were required to stay all day in school and
could not afford to purchase commercially prepared food. They experienced difficulty concentrating
on studies with an empty stomach. After the project intervention, girls were able to purchase bread
or tea during the school day which enabled them to better focus on learning.

In regions like Gambella, where most of the participants were married, the stipend had an impact on
the quality of food given to the children of GEM girls.

I have to care for my children’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. The quality of food I provide has improved
compared to the food I gave them before. I think of introducing variety in the type of food they eat. Even if
it not a big change, there is change.
-Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

The GEM workplan had originally planned to introduce training in water, sanitation and hygiene
education but, through initial assessment, found that girls seemed basically acquainted with this area,
and so training focused on other life skills area. Despite personal hygiene and sanitation education,
not being a formal component of the intervention, in all project sites, girls and the stakeholders
around them, indicated an improvement in the quality of personal hygiene in relation to their peers.
Improvement was noted inthe quality of clothing they wore, the frequency in washing their bodies

1   Pact, GEM Statistical Report of Endline Survey Results, Pact, 2008.

and/or clothing, and personal grooming. Girls in Gambella reported that their change in sanitation
had impacted not only their personal hygiene in school, but the way that they took care of their

Previously, I didn’t have a chance to buy soap and other detergents. I was simply washing clothes with pure
water. This does not bring efficiency to ensure sanitation. After I joined the project, I was able to purchase
soap and other detergents without any problems, so that I can keep my personal sanitation.             - Ghion
Secondary School student, Amhara

As we are females, we do require special facilities to keep our hygiene [sanitary napkins]. But we are not
transparent to request our parents to fulfill those needs. Now that we are project members, we are able to
purchase sanitary materials without a problem and use them appropriately.           - Ghion Secondary School
student, Amhara

Many girls indicated that they previously did not have a second change of clothes, but after project
intervention they were able to maintain more than one set of clothing. Other girls, particularly rural
girls from distant locations, who previously came to school barefoot now had shoes. Many project
stakeholders found that GEM girls were acting as role models of positive sanitation for their peers.
However, the down side of this change in personal hygiene meant that having clothes sometimes
elicited envy from others around them who were not able to afford more than one outfit or

Inadequate health care and lack of proximate health facilities are huge problems facing Ethiopians.
65% of GEM girls had faced significant challenge due to illness of themselves or their family members
1.  Many girls end up missing school due to lack of health care facilities. The brunt of family
members’ health problem falls on the shoulders of adolescent girls, who bear most of the
responsibility for household cleaning, cooking, and care-taking of ill family members. Many girls are
forced to drop out, or accrue so many absences that it becomes impossible to keep up with the
pace of their studies.

Many GEM girls reported that, prior to the project, when they had health issues, their parents could
not afford health care, so they would either remain without health care or their parents would send
them to traditional healers. (And in fact, one girl participating in the program had become
permanently disabled due to the treatment of a traditional healer).

Various girls reported using some of their stipend for medical expenses. This was particularly the
case for GEM girls who were disabled, a group comprising 6% of all GEM beneficiaries 1.

I had an eye problem. When the project began, the first day they distributed money, and the following day, I
went to the hospital!   - Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

When I feel any form of sickness or pain I visit the clinic, which I never did before the project began.
- Ghion Secondary School student, Amhara

Receiving adequate medical treatment increased girls’ ability to more regularly attend class, rather
than sustaining extended absences due to health problems. Some girls reporting using some of their
stipend to cover medical expenses of other sick members of the family, which had the effect of
reducing domestic burden and increasing regular school attendance.

My grandmother became sick. She needed our continuous support and I missed so many classes because of
this. I was sometimes late to the class. I couldn’t take measures to compensate for the missed classes. I
invested the GEM support to help my grandmother’s health. Now we have shifted her to the town of
Arbaminch where she has access to better health care facilities. … And now I can continue my classes.
- Gidole Secondary School student, SNNPR

64% of all participating GEM girls had experienced dire hardship in trying to economically sustain
themselves 1. The majority of GEM girls were involved in labor, prior to their joining the project,
with 55% reporting that excessive workload had been placed upon their shoulders. Even when girls
were not involved in formal work-for-pay arrangements, their domestic service in the home often
resembled the characteristics of formal remuneration, with service-for-support relationship.

I was not paid but I was working for the family. Compensation was given in form of meals and a room.
- Ghion Secondary School student, Amhara

Girls who were previously engaged in excessive baking injera, suffered side effects from long
exposure to heat and smoke, which impeded their ability to focus on their studies.

Participating in the GEM project enabled many girls to minimize the time engaged in labor, with 77%
reducing or stopping engagement in work activities during the life of the project. Before the project,
52% of girls performed domestic labor for 3-6 hours a day and only 10% spent 3 hours or less on
household work. Yet, by the end of the project intervention, the group of girls performing
household labor for less than 3 hours a day increased to 51%, while the amount of girls working for
3-6 hours a day decreased to 42%1.

Certainly the amount of that I spend on household activity is reduced or minimized. I was highly involved in
working in the household because I have to work in order to request cash from my mother and father. If I
happen to not work, they would not cooperate to give me money for academic or non-academic purposes.
So it is to sustain my school requirement that I was involved in labor. Now the project compensates that
cash, so I don’t request any financial help from my family.         - Tana Hayik Secondary School student,

Nonetheless, despite the fact that the amount of labor of many girls relatively decreased, this was
not completely eliminated and remained excessively high in most cases. Girls qualitatively reported
that they continued to engage in a high amount of labor from two to twelve hours a day, limited
their available time for participating in GEM activities. Survey results show that 42% continued to
engage in domestic labor for 3-6 hours per day. While survey data shows that household labor
decreased in Gambella, Gambellan girls did not qualitatively report significant decrease in domestic
labor, because many of them were already wives and mothers with home responsibilities for which
they squarely shared the burden, with husbands living away from their residence.

Almost all my spare time after I return from school is spent on household chores, for approximately seven
hours. I get exhausted to study or read at night because of this overburdening.
- Ghion Secondary School student, Amhara

It seems that while direct financial support reduced the economic need to engage in household
labor, cultural expectations that adolescent girls should participate in domestic housework, despite
attitudinal improvement, remained high. Continued specific education with parents, caregivers,
relatives and informal employers of girls is necessary.

It warrants further investigation to identify who assumed responsibility for the redistribution of
workload. Are mothers handling more of the work their daughters used to do? Was workload
redistributed to other children not participating as GEM beneficiaries? In one atypical case, a girl
who lived as a vulnerable child with an unrelated family handled domestic labor in return for room
and board. When she became a GEM beneficiary, she used part of her funds to hire an out-of-
school girl to handle the domestic activities she was responsible for, so that she could have more
time to study.

Focus group participants at almost all sites reported an increased ability of girls to manage their

The project helped me to develop a culture of saving, and also helped me to have priorities when I am in
need of purchasing things. I do not want to purchase everything I want. I give priority to those items which
should be given emphasis.        - Tana Hayik Secondary School student, Amhara

However, various stakeholders reported a tendency of girls to misuse their money, spending it on
non-educational or beautification purposes, particularly in the early stages of the project. The
oversight of parents and project stakeholders was useful in forestalling and correcting a tendency
toward unnecessary expenditures.

Last year, they used to take the stipend and play with it, buying things to eat, things to make themselves
beautiful. This year, as parents, when we are coming three times week to the school, we evaluate their
spending so that they spend on needed items. They buy books, pens and soap, instead of putting the money
into things that maximize their beauty.
-Parent of Pinyudo Secondary School Student, Gambella

It is recommended that future programs include more explicit training in financial management from
the outset of the project, and incorporate in-kind provision of educational materials, where feasible.

After two years, of receiving monthly stipends, almost all girls were able to save money, either
through depositing it in bank accounts or in traditional savings mechanisms, like sheep and goat

Another very big change that I observed is that these girls didn’t spend their entire stipend. They saved a
portion of it. In our community, even adults do not have the practice of saving money from their income. I
am very, very impressed with their saving.
-Father of a Jinka Secondary School student, SNNPR

However, many spoke of how the rapid increase in inflation has decreased the buying power of their
money. Since food, and even raw grain, is costing more than it ever has before, and because
Ethiopia experienced a drastic reduction in rainfall in the second year of the project, some girls
reported that in the initial period of the project they were able to save, but due to the economic

conditions prevailing during the second year, they were able to save only a tiny amount or not at all.
School administrators report that some girls have had to withdraw their savings to cope with the
rising costs of rental accommodations, due to inflation.

Among all focus groups of girls participating in this assessment, each group contained girls who
reported that they were supporting other members of their households, and 65% of survey
respondents reported that others were dependent on the girls for economic sustenance 1. 56% of
girls reported that they gave more than 50 of the 171 birr they received to others around them 1.
Some girls reported that they delivered half of the money to their family, and the rest was used for
educational supplies or deposited in the bank. Others put 50 birr in the bank and gave the
remainder to their caregivers. One girl felt responsible to give to the person who had supported
her when she had no program support. When a fire destroyed the family hut of another beneficiary,
she used her stipend savings to rebuild the thatched hut. This outcome of supporting others may
be unintended in the original mandate of the project, however, it strengthened families’ abilities to
survive, and draw less upon the labor of their daughters.

Our parents can now concentrate on giving us better food than we received previously, because other
financial needs in the home are satisfied.    - Kedame Gebeya Secondary School, Amhara

However, the effect did have the unintended outcome of diverting the money away from supporting
education investments, and diluting it from investing in girls alone. If the goal of the project is to
strengthen families’ economic abilities to support and empower their daughters, it would be more
effective and sustainable to embark on explicit interventions to accomplish this activity from the
outset of the project.

Some girls experienced pressure to deliver the money to others. In one case, an orphan living with
a family, experienced pressure not from her caregiver, but from other children of the caregiver.

Actually, my aunt doesn’t force me to give her the money, but rather her children force me to give the total
amount to their mother. They say, ‘because you are a child living with our mother, you should act as we do.
We don’t have savings, so you should not have savings.’ Even if I purchase something like my fellow GEM
girl students, they become disappointed with my clothes and shoes. If I do something for myself, I should it
for those children too.
- Ghion Secondary School Student, Amhara

In Gambella, husbands would demand that the money be delivered directly to them, and community
members would surround beneficiary girls after each monthly distribution, asking for a ‘piece of the
pie’. Most girls acceded to these demands, however one Gambellan 10th grader, who had developed
leadership and business skills, was able to change her behavior with community members in the
following way:

According to the culture, once I come home from school, my neighbors are there. I leave my children with
them to be cared for. When they know that I have received some incentive from the project, they say, ‘Oh,
Pact student, how are you? We hear you have your money.’ In my culture, everyone has to taste what I
have. Maybe I give 20 birr to one, 50 birr to another. Maybe I buy coffee and everyone comes together
and the money is finished in two days. This is the culture here. It’s really when I took the business skill
training that I changed. People said, ‘What happened to you? You got money I heard, but you don’t give.’ I
try to explain to them. ‘My dear, giving just like this, “go and eat” will not help. I have to plan for my

children and their health. When the time comes and my children are sick in the middle of the night, I need
to reach for something. It’s difficult to go and ask someone when you are in need. Once something
happens, you can think of how to solve your problem. Then you can think of the food security of your family
and then you can help other children’. Even today, the neighbors are coming and giving me feedback that
‘your idea is good. Serious issues may come up. It’s good you have something, in your house. You can solve
your own problems’.
- Pinyudo Secondary School Student, Gambella

While this young woman’s handling the situation was laudable, it is to be noted that the GEM
project is also introducing the concept of investing in individuals in a setting where all resources are
shared among a community. Introduction of this cultural value should be carefully examined by
project funders and implementers.

     V. WHAT IS
                              EDUC A T ON ?

Direct financial support did have an undeniably large impact on the lives of participating girls, but
only when coupled with other interventions that developed their knowledge, skills and attitudes.

Girls were able to minimize the frequency of absence in school due to economic support, which
reduced the need for time spent in income-generating activities and domestic labor.

The financial support helped us to attend the class without absence. Previously our parents were forcing us
to be absent from school for different household activities. Due to financial support, we are able to attend
the class with confidence.        - Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

The minimization of absence rates was particularly noted by stakeholders in Gambella, where
project stakeholders noted that GEM students’ absence rates had drastically dropped, in comparison
with typically high absence rates among the student body at large. This drop may be due to a
variety of factors, including greater proximity to the school, increased attention and follow-up from
educators, and a greater sense of accountability, knowing that the continuation of their financial
stipend depended upon academic performance. While many Ethiopian secondary school girls must
travel long distances, it is to be noted that 98.5 of GEM survey respondents reported traveling less
than half hour after the project intervention 1.

Vulnerable girls who travel from long distances from home to school are oftentimes consistently late
for school, have less time for studying, and were not able to attend extracurricular activities or
tutorials due to the time involved in going to and from school and the risk of theft, abduction, and
rape when traveling near dark. Where distances from girls’ homes to the secondary school are far,
financial support enabled more girls to move closer to the school, rent temporary accommodation,
and reduce the many hours spent walking back and forth. This reduction in time spent traveling
increased the hours they had available for studying and increased the feasibility of returning back to
school at the time of the tutorial session.

The economic support that girls received also reduced their need to engage in domestic labor, both
for the sake of income generation and for the sake of supporting their family, which, in turn, also
increased the time they had available to study. In addition, awareness-raising with parents and
advice given through parents encouraged parents to decrease the household burden which they
placed on the shoulders of girls in the household.

Before I joined this project, I was studying at night, and during the daytime, I was involved in household
activities. After joining the project, I not only studied at night but during the day. My parents allowed me
more time to use for studying during the day. This is because they have been given orientation by the
project that the girls are recruited because of their superior academic achievement.          -Ghion Secondary
School student, Amhara

In Gambella, many girls were married with home responsibilities awaiting them when they returned
home from school. However financial support enabled them to buy candles so they could study at

night. In Amhara, financial support enabled girls to stay for longer hours in the library, because they
could pay for public transport if they left the library near evening time. Some girls moved from
studying two hours per day to five hours per day. The combination of project interventions that
enabled this result to be effected should be continued in the future.

When girls received financial support, they were guided to use these funds to purchase reference
materials to supplement the materials stated in the curriculum. These materials greatly enhanced
the ability of the girls to comprehend the bare-bones materials provided in the national curriculum.
In many cases, there was close interaction between students, with the GEM girls sharing their
reference materials with other girl students and even boy students. In one case in the South, these
reference materials were made available to a younger cohort of girls after the GEM girls had finished
with them.

My child came from a rural area. When she came to this town, she had to compete with urban children. At
the beginning, she was studying only her school textbooks. Now when she joined this project she has access
to other academic books. She is also improving academic performance and she is confident she will join
grade 11. No day does she worry about her performance.
-Parent of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

The project experimented with the purchase and distribution of supplementary learning materials as
an in-kind contribution, but found this was difficult at the secondary school level where girls had a
diverse array of classes a range of learning needs.

Prior to participating in GEM, many of the girls reported that they had little interaction with
teachers, outside of receipt of lecture delivery. They described feeling afraid to ask teachers
questions. After participating in the program, GEM girls reported increased contact time and
increased support from their teachers. They felt freer to ask questions and seek clarification and
some teachers even lent the girls study resources from their own libraries.

I regularly went to school and attended every day’s lesson. I allocated sufficient time for studying. But my
understanding of the subject matter was not satisfactory. One of my teachers recognized my situation and
provided me mentoring. During his assessment of my situation, he found out that the problem was with the
study methods I used to follow and he advised me on more effective methods of studying.             -Gidole
Secondary School student, SNNPR

What warrants investigation is whether girls not participating in the program benefited from their
teachers becoming more conscious and committed to girls’ issues or whether they received less
contact time, as the GEM girls received more contact time with teachers.

Be it due to the active nature of the Youth Action Kit training, the greater contact with teachers
through the tutorials, the confidence building of life skills training or the combination of holistic
empowerment interventions, girls expressed a general reduction of fear and inhibition to participate
in class. This inhibition was replaced by greater likelihood to raise their hands during classroom
discussion, greater willingness to speak up and vocalize answers to questions, and decreased sense
of fear in relation to teachers.

Previously I was not participating in the class actively. I feared raising my hand --even if I knew the answers.
Now after I have become part of this project, I was able to participate in the class and raise my hand when I
wanted to respond.         - Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

In my previous lifetime, I was passive in the classroom, as well as in family issues. I was expecting that
whatever issue I raised, I could be making errors. Now due to the training provided, I am becoming active
both in the classroom and in family discussion issues.
- Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

Many of the GEM girls selected to become beneficiaries, were on the verge of dropping out before
they became participants in the program. 33% of these 500 girls had failed one grade at some point
in their earlier academic career 1.

GEM support resulted in 454 of 500 girls passing 9th grade to 10th grade in 2007. 5-7 girls dropped
out of the program, primarily due to migration, sickness and moving to other areas. Despite this
improvement in passing rates, 9.2% of girls did not pass 9th grade. Of the 58 who repeated grade 9,
40 of these girls passed, 14 failed 9th grade a second time and 4 demonstrated inconclusive results
(because there were not able to take the final exam due to prolonged illness).

While GEM experienced a 91% pass rate among 9th graders, the nation’s average completion rates
among female 8th graders is 32.9 2.

This outcome is distinguished from academic performance, because while academic performance
may indicate a girls’ participation in class, continuous assessment results, and the grades she receives
over the year, the 10th grade exam has a siphoning effect of weeding out the majority of students,
allowing only the top echelon to continue to the upper levels of secondary school.

Examination results showed that 28% of girls GEM taking the 10th grade exit examination scored
high enough to enter preparatory school (11th grade), while 27% scored high enough to enter
technical and vocational training school. 44% percent of girls sitting for the examination did not
score high enough to pass either of these bars. These remain with the option of enrolling in a non-
government college that would accept their poorer results, or discontinuing their education. These
GEM results compare with a national gross enrollment ratio of 3.7% of females enrolling in
preparatory school2.

The performance of GEM girls improved, without a doubt, in comparison to other girls not
participating in the project, due to GEM project interventions. However, after taking their 10th
grade exit exam, girls still expressed doubt about whether they had passed. In one focus group,
conducted directly following the exam, only 50% percent thought they had passed. Investigation
about girls’ perception of academic success was markedly different when querying them just after
examinations, as opposed to during the year while attending tutorial sessions or during summer
months. Though they had not yet received exam scores, the girls felt that this year’s revised exam
departed from content material and that they scored poorer in subjects in which they had
frequently absent teachers or excessive make-up classes due to school closure during the

2   Ethiopia Ministry of Education, Education Statistics Annual Abstract, 2006-2007, February 2008.

conducting of the census. They also felt that course content presented through English-medium
plasma television had been presented quickly and was not repeated so that they could not fully
comprehend their lessons. Faced with these challenges, the girls awaited the arrival of exam scores
that would have a huge impact on their destiny with fear and ambivalence. This contrasted with the
sense of hope and confidence they vocalized at other times.

The 10th grade exam is a gate-keeping exercise and it is questionable whether a girl’s empowerment
can be given a pass/fail mark, like that of the exam. However, this critical transition point has an
undeniably tremendous impact on the girls’ future course. It seems that the GEM project should
work hard to produce this outcome through the various project outcomes. However, the life skills
component should also prepare girls to have a broader vision for their future, and rather than being
devastated if they do not pass, to draw upon their resilience to make alternative plans.

The failure of 46 of the 500 girls to pass 9th grade after receiving GEM support was a source of
heated debate among project stakeholders. Some felt that girls should be discontinued from the
program, as an incentive to other to keep their academic performance high. Others felt that those
who failed should be assisted to overcome barriers that induced their failure. It warrants further
discussion to come to an agreement among all parties on how grade passing impacts participation in
the GEM project.

When school administration, teachers and parents compare GEM girls to other girls not
participating in the program, they observed a great difference in academic achievement. Many note
that the while the average girl was previously low or medium in her class, GEM participants rose to
first, second and third positions within their classes, or at a minimum to the top ten. Endline survey
results show that 41% of all participating girls scored below the 55th percentile of students before
the project intervention; whereas at the end of the project intervention only 25% scored below the
55th percentile. GEM seemed to help most lifting girls up from a poor to a medium academic status,
with the number of girls scoring in the 55-76 percentile increasing from 45% before the project to
66% after the project 1.

The girls’ empowerment advisory committee of one school tracked its students and found that 90%
of the GEM girls had risen to one of the top three positions in their class.

I have got one child in grade 12, and the other in grade 10. When my second child joined this project, she
has got all the necessary training. She is now performing equally with her sister who is in grade 12.      -
Mother of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

However, not all girls improved academically. One Jinka teacher, after elaborating on how girls had
improved their assertiveness, communication and ability to build on their talents, qualified their
academic progress by stating that,

Academic performance has to be given a priority. The girls do not give due emphasis to improving academic
achievement. The project itself gives emphasis for other empowerment and capacity building activities. It is
quite right that they improved their assertiveness skills. Yes indeed, they are able to sort out their talents and
potential. But I have doubts that they would be successful in realizing them. The tutorial support provided
for girls is not enough.
- Teacher at Jinka Secondary School, SNNPR

Paradoxically, endline survey results show that the percentage of girls who scored above the 76th
percentile was 14% before the project intervention, and reduced to 11% after the project

GEM invested in girls financially, academically up through lower secondary school. The girls have
expressed a changed view of themselves, their own decision-making capacity, clarity about their
rights as females, and a greatly strengthened ability to protect themselves from harmful traditional
practices. However, it seems there should be a balance between capacity building interventions and
academic support. Because of the overall poor quality of the academic system, greater educational
reinforcement is needed.

One major question to be asked is whether the inputs of this program were substantial enough to
offset the all-encompassing lack of quality and the systemic issues affecting the educational system
including. Girls faces challenges of: difficulty keeping up with the pace and understanding the content
delivered through plasma television, difficulty understanding content delivered in English medium of
instruction, exponentially increasing levels of complexity of course material in 9th and 10th grade,
inconsistent quality of teachers, and frequent absenteeism of teachers, particularly in remote rural

Despite these challenges, girls felt they would have been much worse off without the support of the

The complexity appears because of the school‘s problems. If we were not members of the project, we might
not pass this exam. We attended tutorials on Sunday and Saturday and because of this we increased our
performance. We could not pass many challenges had their not been this project support. The support
provided from this project cannot be explained in words.
-Ghion Secondary School student, Amhara

Were academic support investments enough to counteract the all embracing effect of a poor quality
and ineffective educational system? Yes and no. Girls did indeed excel over their counterparts who
did not receive GEM inputs. However, only 56% were able to obtain results that enabled them to
continue their education. It is therefore necessary to collaborate with different types of
interventions at the school level- some that target the girl child and others that aim at educational
system overhaul.

Girls participating in the program demonstrated improved ability to make sound decisions in a range
of areas. Their decisions are reflected in some of the specific life skills areas mentioned below, but
stakeholders and the girls themselves were able to identify improvement in the underlying skill of
decision-making as impacting a host of other choices they made.

Now she has got more confidence in her decisions, and in fact my child already has a kind of freedom to
make decisions. In her academics, I want her to join social science. She said, ‘No I have to join natural
sciences.     - Father of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

It is hard to evaluate individual behavior. But through the drama, the girls tell people it is up to you and
make decisions for your life. It seems like they already have the ability to decide for themselves. They are
already teaching others to choose for themselves, for your choice and your life.        - Father of Pinyudo
Secondary School student, Gambella

Girls also expressed increased ability to cope with difficulties they faced in life, and were able to
clearly recognize resilience and name the particular factors that led to their own increased
resilience. They named some of their sources of resilience as: hope, hard work, family and God.
Several examples of the way they applied their resilience follow below:

My uncle is not willing to assist me [in pursuing my education]. He is actually discouraging me in different
ways. The negative impact from my uncle has made me stronger. The more I am being challenged, the
more I try to get out of that challenge. I have become courageous.
- Tana Hayik Secondary School student, Amhara

From early childhood, I was dreaming to be a doctor and a scientist who would search for a cure for deadly
diseases like HIV/AIDS, so that the world can be free from this disease. This is my great dream and my
desire. If I do not pass the national exam, I will still not lose hope. I will search for other means of getting
assistance from private sources, NGOs or any other source which can assist me to extend my further
education to the extent of becoming a doctor or scientist. My mother is not financially capacitated to help
me in this way. But I will not despair. I will not lose hope. I will search for other alternatives.       - Tana
Hayik Secondary School student, Amhara

Prior to program intervention, 12% of girls participated in clubs, associations or other social
structures. The project targeted to increase this figure to 25% and by the end of project
intervention, 31% of all girls participated in social structures. However, before GEM intervention,
only .8% of girls participated in club leadership roles. The project targeted to increase this to 5%
but by the end of the intervention, only 3.3% of GEM girls were involved as leaders of clubs or other
social structures 1.

Through training in the program, girls changed their conception of what leadership means.

Initially, I understood that a leader was a man who held a higher position. I learned from the project training
that leading -- to the extent of leading one person, my self -- is true leadership. A leader is one who can be a
model, who acts in line with the rules and regulations. He or she should be a listener, a model, a good actor.
He or she is not one to be feared by others.
- Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

               V WH AT S TH E MP ACT OF NV EST N G N
                               GIIRLS’’ LIIFE SKIILLS?
                               G R LS L FE SK L LS ?

In almost every single GEM site studied, both the girls and other stakeholders noted an increase of
confidence among the girls. In Gambella, both beneficiaries and stakeholders discussed repeatedly,
the concept of “becoming human”.

After I entered the program, I understood in my mind I became clever.
- Disabled student at Pinyudo Secondary School, Gambella

Before we became beneficiaries, we didn’t’ know ourselves.
- Pinyudo secondary school student, Gambella

Focus group participants often connected this confidence with a change in the way girls expressed
and articulated themselves.

Previously, there was fear to stand up and ask questions. They struggled last year. But this year, we have
seen a huge change. They ask questions and they stand up and speak. They are showing amazing things to
the community and the woreda! They are losing the fear they had and becoming strong people who can
stand in front of people, express themselves, and present dramas.
-Parent of Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

Oratorship requires not only speaking, but also producing and generating ideas from their mind. I observed
some of these students they are good orators. They are effective speakers, they produce good ideas and
they convince people. I think they will be good leaders in the future.
-School administrator and committee member, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

Some felt that the articulateness had excelled, even over those who educate them.

The GEM girls presented a drama in English. Even some teachers cannot speak that way. They improved in
their mother tongue and in English as well.
-School Administrator, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

However not all students developed this articulateness to the same degree.

Some students can express themselves in front of peoples. Some students know something but they don’t
expose themselves in front of people.
-School Administrator, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

It seems that the life skills training that developed confidence and its related manifestions through
communication and behavior should be continued in future iterations of girls’ empowerment

After participating in the GEM project, girls tended to become active in clubs, like HIV/AIDS, Mini-
media, and Girls’ Clubs and other extracurricular activities, and they often held leadership or officer
positions. More students became class monitors and student council members than previously.

Previously, I was not active to be involved in leadership positions. For example, if students elected me as a
class monitor, I was not willing to take the position. After becoming a member of this project, I was elected
as a student council member. Our council was able to raise important issues like classroom management. If
a teacher is absent from a classroom, we are taking measures and holding discussions to resolve that
problem. In the student council sector, we are taking the leadership initiative.        - Merawi Secondary
School student, Amhara

Many stakeholders referred to GEM girls as leaders in the school, not just academically but in all
aspects. Stakeholders cited not only examples from the school context, but observations made
when witnessing girls on the road, in the market, and in the community. The girls freely expressed
their opinions and sought to influence others in positive ways.

Leadership is what...influencing others to improve their performance. Different girls serve as club sponsors
for Red Cross and mini-media. They convince other girls who are not participating in GEM, but are interested
to come by seeing them. They are acting as role models. Even physically, their movement and appearance is
different from others.
-School administrator, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

Gambellan girls, in addition to being club leaders, also participated in women’s cooperatives and
were selected to serve on community management boards. Gambellan girls, in particular, who
participated in the program came to be seen as markedly different from their peers because their
behavior contrasted with others in their environment.

Many people call us ‘you leaders’. At the same time, we girls have really learned a lot. Why? Because in
this area, there is a shortage of people with educational background. When they see us participating in
business and in dramas, they see a very big gap with the community. We are now considered as if we are
somehow different from the community.
-Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

As with most areas of development, stakeholders qualified progress, noting that many girls excelled
in their leadership abilities, but that girls still existed who remained more withdrawn or inhibited
about exercising their leadership capabilities. While 33% of girls actively participated in clubs or
associations, and 21% marginally participated, a large cohort of girls, 30% did not participate at all in
clubs or other social structures outside of school 1.

Some parents noted how girls did not study according to programmed schedules, prior to the
intervention of the project. Following the GEM intervention, girl after girl described her newly
acquired ability to manage time and arrange her studies better. Across the three regions, other
stakeholders also reported on the girls’ increased punctuality, in comparison with other girls.

Before the project, when she came home, she wanted to relax and go here and there. Now after project,
she takes a short break and she starts to study.

- Parent of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

After participating in various life skills training and educational awareness raising sessions, girls felt
they knew much more about HIV/AIDS, family planning, human rights, and a variety of other issues.
82% of GEM girls felt they had access to information about their legal rights, 82% reported knowing
where to get information on reproductive health, and 97% espoused the belief that early marriage
poses health threats to girls 1.

They also planned to use this learning in their lives.

We have all the knowledge about how to handle our family size in the future.
-Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

After we got all this training on HIV/AIDS, we have enough knowledge and we do not discriminate against
those who have the disease.
-Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

The project also helped us to know the kind of violence that is attempted on girl students. Who is
perpetrating the violence? How is violence carried out? So after, we understand who and how it is being
implemented, we are able to know the techniques and ways by which we can protect ourselves from various
types of abuses and violence.
-Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

Many girls converted their knowledge into action by engaging in voluntary testing and counseling for
HIV/AIDS through their participation in the project. In one particular case, a girl in Gambella
became fearful when she learned about HIV/AIDS, because she was the fifth of her husband’s five
wives. When she got the courage to take the test, she found she was negative, and she wanted to
take the results to her husband and force him to immediately choose her as his first and only wife
or else divorce her. Project staff worked with her to resolve the situation and she eventually ended
up educating her husband and her four co-wives on how the faithfulness of the each of the six
individuals would affect the health of the members of the marital union.

GEM participating girls demonstrate the ability to directly address and discuss issues that were
previously considered taboo in their cultural context.        After project intervention, 36% had
discussed family planning with their parents, 26% felt comfortable discussing issues of sexuality with
their parents, and 51% reported having discussed safe sex issues with their partners 1.

Before I took this training on reproductive health and family planning, I was shy to even to pronounce those
words. I have taken the training, but those girls who did not participate in the empowerment program are
still shy and make comments about how I could speak those words in front of others.            - Hotie
Secondary School student, Amhara

Girls had to overcome resistance in discussing these matters, both from other students as well as
wider community members.

There are some who do not accept us, and do not want us to mention us these taboos, especially relation to
body parts. They criticize us for calling their names in public.
- Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

However this reticence to discuss taboos had not disappeared entirely, in all regions, but particularly
in Gambella, where discussion of reproductive health issues was at a more nascent stage.

In the program, many of the beneficiaries still fear discussing reproductive health. Why? Because the
culture still ties them. When they talk about reproductive health, and other people hear about it, they say,
‘you know, these children have started becoming prostitutes. Why do they only call the names of
reproductive organs? They are not having children, they are getting spoiled’. When you reach eighteen, you
must get married and have children. If you pass this age, you get a bad name in the community. This is
another challenge that forces people to get married early.
- Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

19% of all GEM girls had experienced pressure to marry 1. After project intervention, GEM girls
demonstrated greater confidence to exercise their decision-making capabilities when it comes to
their futures. Many are able to articulate clear marital and family planning intentions. Parents note
how their children have changed their views on family planning and see the dangers of having large
numbers of children. The girls discuss matters of family planning with their own families and clearly
articulate their choices and opinions.

I am in a better position to make decisions. If someone comes and says, ‘I would like you to marry you and
make you my own’, I can make good decision. It’s not the time to marry because of the following reasons….
- Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

I have one child. Up to now that is my only child. People are saying ‘don’t let this child be the only child.
Please have another child’. The only decision I have is that I am the only one to decide about having a child.
Many say that at the time you want another child, you might not be able to conceive. But I know from the
training that I am the only one to decide. If I were to bear a child at a time when I am not prepared, I
know a lot of my objectives would fail. I know how to protect myself. Even if I people are talking, I know
how to fulfill my plans.
- Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

Yet this change was not witnessed in all areas, especially in Gambella, where reproductive health
acceptance was at a nascent stage. Girls in that region, for the most part, did not demonstrate that
they themselves had the decision-making power in their lives when it comes to reproductive health

24% of all participating GEM girls had experienced domestic abuse, 7% had experienced sexual
harassment, and 2% had experienced pressure to engage in sex work 1. After project intervention,
GEM girls expressed greater confidence and ability to protect themselves from gender-based
violence in a number of ways. Girls can be observed standing up, resisting and fighting with boys
who sought to force them into certain situations. Girls were much more aware of female rights and

where to go for recourse when violations occurred. Girls were also able to stand up to teachers
who gave them lower grades with no apparent rationale. Girls in Gambella discussed a reduction of
going to bars, where they could be induced by alcohol to engage in risky sex and be at higher risk of
catching HIV/AIDS. Economic support enabled girls to live closer to the school also freed some
girls from pressures they experienced close to their home (various girls knew of boys in the vicinity
of their home who either wanted to marry them, were pressuring them to marry or were
persistently following them with the intent of abduction).

We live alone, but we do have confidence. If we lead ourselves properly, nobody can bring problems to our
life. It is us who prepare the way for anyone who wants to attack us. If someone winks at us, we just wink
back at them. Then they go away.
-Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

When I ask about sexual relations, my daughter says ‘Don’t worry, I can handle it. I have a dream to reach.
Therefore whether you advise me or not, I will take care of things. Now I believe in my own decision.’     -
Parent of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

Girls who participated in the project demonstrated their entrance into and competent performance
in male-dominated activity areas, where they had previously not ventured. They began participating
in activities not usually undertaken by girls, like running in races, participating in sports tournaments
and other activities with traditionally low participation on the part of females. At one GEM school,
an English Club existed in the school, but it was composed entirely of boys. When one GEM girl
joined this club, another girl later followed her example and became a club member.

These girls are conscious of gender inequalities. They are trying to make themselves equal with boys. Girls
were inferior in gender. Now at this time, they feel equal and participate in whatever activities boys do.
They express themselves, as if they are equal to boys.
-School administrator, Kedame Gebeya School, GEM committee

Our result is surely better than others. Let alone with other girl students, we are able to compete with our
male partners due to the support from the project. Not only academically , girl students in this project are
showing good behavioral change, like leadership in clubs and acting as monitors in classrooms, because of
the training provided by the project on resilience.
- Ghion Secondary School student, Amhara

By the conclusion of the project, girls were able to clearly articulate their goals for the future. Many
girls had previously aspired simply to complete 10th grade only. Participating in the project raised
the aspirations of many to pursue higher education. 44% of girls aspired to continue with their
education, graduate, obtain a job and support themselves and their families 1. Some examples of girls
aspirations include: opening a computer training center, producing new inventions in the area of
health, serving as a Women’s Affairs Office official,      or becoming a business woman who brings
goods from abroad for distribution, amidst a number of other career goals.

Project stakeholders, particularly Gambella stakeholders, described not just a change in specific
goals, but a change in the girls’ attitude about how to reach those goals.

As I have observed, they have become interested in following what they are planning to do. About life, they
have extra knowledge. It seems they have a plan for the future. For example, they say, ‘if I want to be one

of the woreda workers, it is now that I need to arrange myself to be in that position'. They are planning,
have objectives they want to fulfill, and are undertaking activities to fulfill those objectives. That was when we
realized, they have gotten something from this program.
- Women’s Affairs Representative and school committee member, Pinyudo Secondary School, Gambella

One orphan describes how she had changed her view about the possible goals that orphans could
attain, as opposed to children with parents.

When I was a kid, I assumed those who graduated and obtained different professions were people who have
parents. I assumed people who do not have parents or guardians could not obtain their objective. I learned
from the project, that anybody can be successful and can be a graduate of different profession, and that that
person can pass any difficulty or any challenge properly.
- Ghion Secondary School student, Amhara

     V       WH AT S T H E MP AC T OF ST R EN GT H EN N G G R L
                               ENA BLE RS?
                               ENA BLE RS?

Some parents expressed the following attitude prior to the GEM intervention.

Why would we favor girls’ education? The girl is for the man, the would-be husband, but not for her parents.
We had no reason to waste our efforts and resources on her education.
-Parent of Gidole Secondary School student, SNNPR

Many advisory committee members noted a change in caregivers’ involvement with the girls’
education. Parents and caregivers more frequently came to the school, inquired about their girl’s
progress and asked to hold meetings when necessary.

When I joined this project, the home environment of the relatives I live with changed. They said ‘if someone
is supporting this girl, why shouldn’t we? ’… My domestic workload burden has now decreased. - Kedame
Gebeya Secondary School student, SNNPR

Particular change was noted in the area of parents’ resistance to allow their children to attend
tutorial classes outside of regular class hours. After GEM outreach and education with parents,
many parents were more willing to send their daughters to the tutorial session, especially on
Saturdays and Sundays when daughters are traditionally expected to do more housework.

A more nuanced change, reflects that while families increased their attitudinal support for girls’
education, in a number of cases, they decreased their financial support of girls’ education, assuming
that the financial needs of the girls were met by the project.

The moral support from the family increased. But financial support has decreased because they think we
are supported by this project. Unless we ask them directly, they do not give us money.
- Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

However, even though the project did much to encourage parents and caregivers to become
enablers of girls’ education, this does not mean that many parents were not already committed to
the education of their girls prior to the intervention of the project.

Starting from the beginning, I was determined to carry all my own problems and determined to educate my
child. After this project, still I keep that promise to my child.
-Parent of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

Yet, among those who were not supporters of girls’ education, despite the ongoing meetings and
GEM orientation sessions, the attitude and home environment of some families did not change.
Various project stakeholders discussed the project needed to do more in terms of more
concertedly working with parents and changing attitudes.

There is not that much change with regard to my studying system because I am living with my aunt and she
expects to take the money that is supposed to be given to me to use for the whole family. And even her

children are not cooperative if I do not give that money to their parents. And still I am working long hours
and they are not that cooperative to allow me time to study.
- Ghion Secondary School student, Amhara

Coming from a far rural village, my sister and I enrolled in primary school after great negotiation with our
family. Even though we joined that school, at that moment our parents were not expecting that we would
continue our education, but would study for only a limited period of time until the moment we would be
married off.
-Sister of Ghion Secondary School student, Amhara

Various parents raised the height of the glass ceiling in their expectations about their daughters’
futures. Many parents and caregivers had not expected their girls to complete grade 10, and if they
did complete that year, parents assumed they would simply find a job following the cessation of their
schooling. Over the course of the project, many parents raised their expectations about the
daughters’ abilities to score high enough to enter preparatory school and beyond.

At the beginning, I was just planning to support her not to spend her entire life in the countryside. I planned
to bring her to urban area and educate her to grade 10 and after she completed grade 10, I planned she
would have a job so she supports herself. As she joined the project and got support, the problems in house
are decreasing. Therefore I have changed my plan and wish for her to go to preparatory school until 12th
grade and then on to university.
-Parent of Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

Focus group participants indicated that male behavior toward girls changed, particularly
among the selected boy students who participated in the Youth Action Kit training.

Before the rising in our culture, there was the force of boys on girls. That means boys were forcing girls to
be their friends or to have some kind of kind of meeting. (I don’t want to mention the word itself). But now
at this time, boys are conscious that girls are equal to boys. They understand the equality of gender. They
are not in a position to do something for the boys’ needs only. Boys are retreating from their actions in the
past. This program might have some change on the mind of the boys.              -Committee Member, Kedame
Gebeya School, Amhara

Interaction among the male student body changed, particularly when boys saw the value of GEM
girls’ supplementary learning materials and wanted to borrow these materials.              Some boys
expressed envy about the privileges girl students received, including financial support, library usage
time and supplementary learning materials – to the extent that boys at one secondary school in the
South, would commonly exclaim they wished they were girls so they could be eligible to receive the
benefits of the project.

Changes in male violation of girls’ rights were noticed in various GEM sites, and this reduction, in
some cases, was directly tied to the efforts of GEM students. In one school in the South, a
Women’s Affairs Officer came to speak about female’s right to inherit property. Most boys in the
school expressed opposition to equal rights in property inheritance. After the GEM project took up
the issue, negative attitudes among schoolboys diminished. Another school in the South noted a

decrease in insults and beating of boy students of girls, and to a lesser extent, reduction in the
number of abductions during the GEM project period. A stakeholder from Amhara reports that:

Both teachers’ and students’ behavior are showing improvement. It was common to see girls violated for the
sake of sexual purposes, both by teachers and by male peers. But due to the involvement of those target
girls students in different activities, the intensity is declining. This has influenced the mind of teachers as well
as male students, when compared to previous cases.
-Teacher, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

However, in many cases, where a decrease in violation of girls’ rights occurs, it seems to be
accompanied by a coordinated effort from many sides of society, in which government institutions,
community-based institutions, school administration and even radio and mass media had taken up
the cause.

Because there is great awareness-raising by different NGOs and government bodies, the men and boys know
our rights. If they violate our rights, they know what will happen.
- Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

However, change was not evident in all GEM sites. Despite increased ability to protect themselves
and strong institutional opposition to harassment, GEM girls still face harassment.

There is still a lot of harassment. There are boys who go up to our house and come to this school.
Sometimes I go to the staff office and hide myself there.
-Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

In GEM project sites like Gambella, boys “feared touching GEM girls” because the girls had taken
self-defense training. However, male violation of non-GEM girls’ rights was not reported to have
decreased. Where wider societal institutions still condoned, or ‘looked the other way’ upon
infractions of gender-based violations, girls did not feel empowered to make any change in
decreasing gender violence and boys did not decrease their infractions of gender-based violence.

Future iterations of girls’ empowerment project should focus more on directly engaging males to
become advocates for the rights of girls, both through the Youth Action Kit training but also
through other efforts that involve a wider numerical base of the male student body.

The combined efforts of interventions at forming girls’ empowerment advisory committees,
strengthening girls’ and HIV/AIDS clubs and building the human capacity of school committee
members, teachers and school administrators left a footprint in terms of strengthening institutions
that could continue girls’ empowerments after the termination of the project. Most of these
institutions were not dependent on the GEM project for their existence, but rather had greater
longevity that will outlive the project life. It would be key for future interventions, regardless of the
sponsor, to be aware of the newly acquired capacities of these institutions and to build upon their


While projects come and go, relationships at grassroots level are maintained and pave the way for
future coordination. The GEM project prompted many school staff to reach out to other
institutions, including voluntary HIV/AIDS testing and counseling centers, Women’s Affairs offices,
and banks that made special provisions to make it easier for girls to open accounts. For example, in
Dessie, school committee members of target schools established linkages between beneficiary
students and the Local Gender Network Association. As a result, ten of the beneficiary students
who are also leaders of the school clubs became members of this association.

Several school sites expressed appreciation about their strengthened relationship with local NGO
implementing organizations and the access to new opportunities and information this had opened.
It was noted that improving relationships with local institutions depended upon a competent,
communicative, and responsive school administration being in place to facilitate the growing of such

In particular areas, where few other civil society or government institutions were intervening at the
school level, the GEM project had the impact of improving relations with the local government.
School officials were able to use the GEM girls’ progress as a platform to invite the woreda and
regional government administration to visit their school and see first-hand the kind of progress
being made. At one school in Gambella, the woreda began paying much more attention to the
school, sent highly ranked officials to attend GEM events, and awarded the school with greater
budgetary and resources in terms of learning materials. It seems that girls’ investment can leverage
such attention when few other activities are being implemented. Whereas, in other areas, the GEM
investment can seem more diluted when it is part of a larger process that has already been adopted
and institutionalized by local institutions.

Starting from this activity, we have formed a good relationship with the government. Before this, the
government didn’t see this school as something in the woreda. Now, everybody is always thinking of this
school. Even the region itself, has put this school as one of the best in the woreda. They pay attention to
this school. Even our brother sitting here [Woreda Council member attending the focus group], not did not
come before. Now they come and inquire about us and have related themselves to us.
-School administrator and committee member, Pinyudo Secondary School, Gambella

The GEM project worked with the GET-SET project to specifically link with police offices, health
institutions and other organizations that prevent and respond to gender violence. However, the
timing of the two projects did not directly coincide, with one phasing out, as the other phased in. It
is advisable that a future project include liaising with these institutions as a primary project strategy,
so that synchronization of timing and effort is maximized.

               D FFE R ENT LY BY E MP OW ER M ENT E F FORTS ?

41% of all GEM girls were single or double orphans, and 35% of GEM girls were living outside the
home of their parents or husband 1. Girls participating in the program, both those with and without
parents, felt that financial support tended to have the greatest impact on orphans and those girls
who had migrated from rural areas for the purpose of attending secondary school. These girls were
responsible for managing their own domestic affairs, paying rent, purchasing cooking materials and
food, in addition to supporting their school expenses. Girls living on their own also faced much
greater protection risks and threat of sexual violation, compared to girls living with their families.

Though girls living with families experienced unjust deprivation, excessive workload, and
unwillingness of their parents to buy school supplies, many others said that their parents were able
to provide the minimum support for food and basic sustenance, while the GEM funds enabled them
purchase school supplies. If GEM project support were to be withdrawn, these girls felt their
parents would continue feeding them, but it would be up to the girls to support their school costs.
On the other hand, girl-headed households feared that if the project stipend ceased, they would not
have the mere funds to support subsistence. Therefore orphans and girl-headed households faced
the double burden of supporting the costs of sustenance, as well as schooling.

There are two kinds of girls here; those who are supporting themselves and those who are living with
families. For the girls living with families, before the project started, they had a family that could support
them, even if at just minimum capacity. When the GEM project came, they didn’t buy clothes or other
materials, with the exception of food. If the project stops, their parents will give them the minimal amount
of food so that they can continue. But for those living by themselves, it is too difficult. On the one hand, they
want to join preparatory class, but on the other hand, they have problem of finance. This finance is a huge
problem for those living by themselves.
- Hotie Secondary School student, Gambella

Orphans differed from girl-headed households, in that the latter had migrated from rural to urban
areas for educational purposes. While many faced opposition or indifference on the part of parents
toward their education, in many other cases, their parents would send raw agricultural products or
whatever other type of support they could muster to assist the sustenance of their daughters living
in urban areas.

Orphans, on the other hand, lacked such support networks. They were more likely to live on their
own or with families that exploited their labor and were more likely to experience pressure to hand
over the majority of their scholarship money to their caregivers.

It is recommended that future projects, give priority in terms of beneficiary selection first to
orphans, secondly to girl-headed households, and thirdly to other vulnerable girls, in particular those
with extenuating circumstances.

18% of GEM girls had been married, prior to joining the project 1. Married girls, in particular girls
with small children, seemed to be less able to avail themselves to participate in GEM project
activities due to the demand of outside obligations on their time.

When we go back home, the workload is still waiting for us. We forget to even remember what we have
written. For that reason it would be better if we were isolated from the house, so that we would have time
to think about what people have said [during GEM project activities].
- Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

Stakeholders from each of the three regions recommended the project intervene at a lower level of
schools, for instance upper primary school from grades 5-8, where girls were more likely to be
unmarried. This recommendation, in no way, is intended to mean that married girls trying to
complete secondary school, do not deserve support. They struggling against great odds, and indeed,
deserve special support. Rather, if the amount of resources are limited and a donor wishes to
target and maximize upon an investment, investing in unmarried girls between grades 5 and 8, may
have the outcome of pre-empting early marriage and lead to greater long-term outcomes for girls.

What I can take as a lesson is that if this program would occur in another place with other people, it would
be good if beneficiaries are females who are not married, who do not know about ‘I love you’, who do not
think about boyfriends, who do not have workload at home, who do not have other thoughts that disturb
them. I would tell them ‘please concentrate on this program! If you concentrate on this program, you will
not be like me’. I can see that most of the challenge is that many of us are married, we have problems with
husbands, and we have children crying at home. At same time, we are trying to participate in the program,
there are problems at home, quarrelling at home. Beneficiaries should be people who are free of all these
- Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

26 of the primary target GEM beneficiaries came from pastoralist background 1. Due to the nature
of their lifestyle, pastoral girls attending secondary school are more likely to be living alone,
removed from the family context, and with little outside support networks. Within the cultural
context of Ethiopia, support from parents and family for the education of pastoral girls is
comparatively low.

During GEM Phase I, non-monetary support was made available to fourteen additional pastoral 9th
and 10th grade girls residing in a boarding hostel for pastoral students in Jinka town. Their
participation was diluted by the fact that the girls joined late, and conveyed the impression that they
felt like they were not the primary beneficiaries of the project, with particular reference to the fact
that they did not receive monthly stipends. They had also participated in other projects where they
received per diem for participating so they were not willing to join GEM life skills training with out
per diem.

Efforts to embrace these girls into the academic and life skills components of the GEM project did
not seem successful. Granted these girls fell within the vicinity of one particular school where a
combination of girl enabling institutions were weak, and the project therefore did not exploit its full
potential. However, in future iterations of girls’ empowerment activities, more specific attention to
pastoral girls is needed to guarantee that this high-risk, underserved group of girls makes it through
secondary school.

The GEM project found the following conditions prevailing in each of the three regions where it
operated: Gambella, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, and Amhara.

Gambella girls were at the beginning stages of literacy in 9th grade and nearly 58% had repeated at
least two grades in the past. Nearly 70% of Gambella girls were already mothers by the time they
reached 9th grade and many of them were divorced or widowed by violent conflict. Rape was
considered common and not something that girls felt empowered to prevent. Some girls are
members of polygamous marriages with one GEM participant being the fifth of five wives. Gambella
girls had much more financial responsibility to support both children and husbands, and were more
likely to be engaged in income generating activities. Over 40% had lost one or more parents. In
addition, school administrations, committees, civil society and other institutions seemed to be at a
more nascent stage of development than in other localities of the nation.

Eleven percent of girls from the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region are pastoralists.
This group of girls is particularly challenged by poor quality roads, which are cut off due to seasonal
flooding. These girls are studying in second, third and fourth languages due to the dense
concentration of diverse ethnic groups in SNNPR. 79% percent of girls in the South have others
who depend on them for economic support. In addition, 79% of these girls scored below the 57%
percentile in their class and 17 % failed 9th grade.

Amhara girls tended to have greater child protection resources at hand, a stronger academic
foundation and were less likely to be married. However, over 61% were engaged in six to twelve
hours of housework per day, and 68% faced extreme poverty and economic hardship. Over 50%
came from agricultural background and more than 28% had experienced the death of at least one
parent. One fourth of all Amhara girls had experienced verbal or physical domestic abuse.

Much has been learned through operationalizing one common empowerment approach across three
regions. All girls are in need of academic, economic, life skills and institutional strengthening inputs.
However, Gambella girls need greater emphasis on basic reading and writing skills, as well as more
rapid introduction to income generation activities; SNNPR girls need concentrated inputs to
strengthen institutions and girl-enablers; and Amhara girls have particular need for inputs that
reduce domestic workload and gender violence.

Nevertheless, it is not advisable to recraft a future project purely around regional issues, because it
seemed that girls and girl enablers in all three regions needed inputs in the areas of economics,
academics, life skills, and institutional support. Rather, these three regions seemed to fall along a
spectrum of stages of development with Gambella on one end, most in need of strengthening, with
the South in the middle, and the Amhara region further along in its development. This does not
mean to state that one region is more sophisticated or worse off than another. Rather, it seeks to
describe how a comprehensive empowerment approach does not need to be entirely different in
each region. Rather its interventions needed to be tailored and customized to the stage of
development and particularities of each locality.

The one exception to the above recommendation may be in the area of academics in Gambella
regional state. Though Gambella has one of the highest gross enrollment ratios in the nation (216%-
grossly inflated due to high repetition and poor statistical tracking of students), academic quality is
one of the poorest. Prior to project intervention, 75% of the Gambella girls had scored below the
45% percentile in lower secondary, while only 1% of Amhara girls scored within this range 1. In the
beginning of the project, Gambella girls could be witnessed copying letters upside down and did not
demonstrate evidence of even basic literacy. Though all courses were delivered in the English
medium of instruction, girls demonstrated barely any understanding of the language, nor little
comprehension of Amharic, the language spoken by many of their teachers.

Due to this difference, GEM project management felt it was necessary to modify the nature of
academic support provided in Gambella. The project provided English training during summer and
the following year, instead of receiving tutorials in each of the academic content areas like biology,
civics, physics, etc, tutoring was provided in the area of basic literacy and English language
comprehension. Respondents stated that GEM girls excelled academically far above other Gambella
girls, although the level of their academics differed markedly from the other two regions. By the
end of the project, the number of girls scoring below the 45th percentile had reduced from 75 to

Unlike other regions, Gambella GEM girls stated that they valued the academic portion of the
program, even more than other areas, and had a desire to progress more in this area. It is
recommended that future project intervention treat the Gambella academic case, and specifically
deliver educational interventions at the comprehension level of students and with the desired
outcome of strengthening reading and language comprehension.

The tutorial has helped us. Many of us had difficulty reading. Even constructing sentences through reading
is difficult. We take it word by word. This tutorial has helped us read and sometimes we are now reading
not just sentences, but even paragraphs! Many of us can read something this year, but could not last year.
We have becoming interested in reading because we can understand.
- Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

Those who we observed who were not able to read have become interested in reading. We see them
carrying books and hiding themselves somewhere where they read.
-Parent of Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

       HOW DOES
                       RIIPPLE OUT TO OTHERS?
                       R PP LE OUT T O OTH ER S?

Were investments in girls’ empowerment localized to the girls participating in the project, or did
they have a multiplier effect on other girls, the school community, girls’ families or the wider
community? Qualitative research unearthed the following ripple effects from greater empowerment
efforts among adolescent girls participating in the GEM project.

Through this project, even if you have a small number of beneficiaries, you have other beneficiaries that you
don't know.       -Parent, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

In my opinion, these 33 girls have 33 friends or more. So they influence these 33 friends. And they can
then influence another 33.
-School administrator and committee member, Kedame Gebeya Secondary School, Amhara

In almost all sites, GEM girls were noted to be educating and sharing academic and life skills
information with their peers, informally, through peer-to-peer contact, as well as formally through
organized tutorials and dramatic presentations. They shared information on academics, family
planning, and harmful traditional practices, as well as other skills like problem-solving and
negotiation. Many educated younger siblings at home, study partners or friends and colleagues at
school. Girls with origins in distant rural areas often shared newly gained knowledge, both academic
and life skills, with rural peers when they visited home during school breaks-- particularly in

Participating GEM girls attracted the attention of youth, both girls and boys, most often in the area
of life skills, as well as in academics. Stakeholders in various GEM sites found that the school
community had begun considering the girls as role models. Some girls in the South noted that their
own successes motivated their younger brothers and sisters to begin attending school.

Advocacy made by targeted girls inspired others to be like them.
-Project stakeholder at Gidole Secondary School

While I was in grade 9, I was the only girl who passed biology. The other girls said, ‘if I were you, I would be
happy’. I think I was a role model for them.
-Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

In an environment like Ethiopia, it is not a few vulnerable girls who are in need. The majority of girls
are vulnerable, and the 33 girls who are picked out of a student body of 2000 feel very lucky.

Both parents and teachers at schools in the South and in Amhara found that girls not selected as
beneficiaries “felt discomfort” and considered themselves as neglected and lacking attention or
support from the government. At one school in the South gossiping developed around girls
involved in the GEM project, and participating girls were termed as ‘beggars’.

However, stakeholders in all three regions noted that the project also created positive academic
competition among the younger grades. Various project participants coined a term “positive
jealousy”. This could be translated as a healthy spirit of competition that motivates others to
improve their performance so that they have a chance of seeking a common goal.

There are two kinds of jealousy. One is supportive and the other distractive. Spiritual jealousy is for the
positive. ‘If I were you, it would be good for me.’ It had an impact for girls in grade 8. When they ask, we
told them it was a competition based on marks, so they studied hard. The other is a jealousy that you can’t
define.         - Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

It has a positive impact, especially on the neighbors. When my family told them, ‘my child got this
scholarship because she is clever’, the parents of other children advised their children to be clever like me.
- Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

Girls had various methods of responding to feelings of exclusion on the part of other students. One
disabled student responded to her peers in the following manner:

I tell them, ‘It is not because of me, but my results and the way I fulfill the program criteria is the way I fulfill
the program criteria.’ One of the things we do is LOVE. If someone is feeling jealous of you or finding a
means to put you into problems or hurt you, I find another way to bring him or her to be my friend. When
you bring someone to be your friend, even in jealousy, he will feel sorry in the end and will correct himself or
herself, saying sorry. The only thing we show is love. We make friends. Making a lot of friends will help you
survive.         - Pinyudo Secondary School, Gambella

In addition, to educating their peers, girls participating in the GEM project also conducted outreach
sensitization and advocacy with neighbors, community members and outlying rural dwellers. Girls
performed in dramas, marched with banners in the streets, traveled to distant rural areas to
conduct presentations, commemorated international holidays relating to rights, in addition to
various other activities. Though some felt this community awareness-raising could have received
further concerted attention, many focus group participants spoke of the positive outcomes of such

They have shown us a lot of dramas that have really touched the heart of a lot of people in this woreda.
-Parent of Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

GEM girls also demonstrated participation in community service endeavors. Girls at one school in
the South began reaching out to assist special needs students at a school for the disabled, following
their participation in GEM. Other girls traveled three hours to provide academic tutorials to girls in
rural areas. In various instances, cases were noted in which girls voluntarily helped other poor girls
with their funds, or when they pooled their support together to help one girl travel to receive
adequate medical support.

In various project sites, stakeholders noted by greater social cohesion and improved relationships
with others in the school community and beyond, as an outcome of greater engagement with the
community through the project. Community members responded by valuing the education and
information that girls imparted.

Girls express that even neighbors and other community members consult them, seeking their advice.             -
Parent of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

The girls do change the attitude of the school community, as well as the external environment.
-Committee member, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

Several GEM sites did report that abductions and sexual harassment had decreased during the
period of the GEM intervention. However, it warrants further study to assess what measurable
levels of behavior change occurred in the community, as a direct result of awareness-raising and
service efforts of the GEM girls.

Not only did girls educate their peers, or the wider community, they brought home new
information, as well as new patterns of behavior. After participating in various training sessions,
particularly resilience training, girls expressed that their families were treating them differently and
asking for their input in family decisions and even turning to them for advice. 61% of participating
survey respondents cited having participating in decision-making at the household level, and 78% had
been active in solving their own or family matters 1.

We started respecting our girls since they started to tell us a lot in a mature way and advise us on family
planning, drinking and its impact etc. - Parent of Gidole Secondary School student, SNNPR

Before the project, in the house I was the one who advised on all issues. After she joined this project, as this
time, I don’t know what training she has got. She has started to advise in the house. Now I am not the only
advisor. Now my child has a voice in advising on matters in the house.
-Parent of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

Now when there is a discussion in the house, I am invited to speak. I have gained decision-making prestige.
- Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

As they gained a voice in the house, some girls took bold initiatives and specifically requested their
families to change behaviors, like reducing excessive levels of labor, instituting family planning and
respecting the rights of family members. In some cases, there were observable changes from this
family-level education.

She is also telling us that it was not good to have a large number of children in the house and that we should
consider family planning. She is condemning early marriage too. My husband usually disturbs the family
members when he drinks alcohol. But my daughter started counseling her father not to disturb and to
respect rights of the family. Now my husband has stopped disturbing and has reduced his alcohol intake.
-Mother of Gidole Secondary School student, SNNPR

Rather than insulting us, at the time when girls reach the age of adolescence, our parents have started
advising us on all issues. They are not beating us over small things any more.
- Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

Despite the significant changes documented above, girls’ roles in the family context did not always

I am still dominating all the decisions in the house.
- Mother of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

Before when a girl became an adolescent, we would say “you are such kind of girl…” We attack them. We
harass them. Now, the girls in my community and in my house are not discriminated against. Still, if I tell
you frankly, the previous behavior is still alive.
-Mother of Hotie Secondary student, Amhara

This lack of change may represent the concept of ‘high-hanging fruit’, in which those who are
relatively easy to convince have been impacted by sensitization and education efforts, but those have
not changed behavior toward adolescent girls need concerted, focused attention.

Change in the economic contribution of girls to household finances seemed to have a considerable
impact on the perceived value of girls at the household level. In one case, the receipt of a monthly
stipend changed the role of girls from that of domestic servitude to family breadwinner.

When I would come back home from my job, I saw work put on my child like a servant because there is a
stepmother in my home. I saw her baking injera and acting as a servant in the house. After she joined this
project, she now has a monthly income. Her servant role in the house has changed, as has her relationship
with her stepmother because she has income. She is financially and economically liberated in the house.
That has given me relief. I was sad when I saw her doing difficult work.    -Father of Hotie Secondary
School student, Amhara

Due to the increased value that parents gave to girls economic contribution in the home, some
(though certainly not all) families changed girls’ roles in financial decision-making at the household

Before this project, when the child would ask money to do something, we just treated her differently, badly.
The girls would go here and there to get that money to support their needs. After they got support from this
project, they do not use the money only for themselves or academics, they also use that money to help the
house. Our interaction has improved in the house. We used to say it will be this way or this way. Now the
children have got a say in the house, because they are contributing money from this project. Now we
discuss how to spend money in the house.
-Relative of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

Immediate economic gain from girls rapidly shifted roles in the house. However, becoming aware of
the potential economic gain to be derived from girls’ completion of schooling also influenced
parents. One father in the South, a poor security guard, made special efforts for his daughter,
walking five hours to participate in the focus group discussion for this assessment. He believed that:

When she completes grade 10, it means to me that she will bring to me wealth and gold.
-Father of Gidole Secondary School student, SNNPR

While interesting to note that parental value allotted to daughters changed according to their ability
to bring income to the family level, direct asset transfer through a scholarship program is not
indefinitely sustainable. It warrants further planning to develop economic strengthening schemes
that increase girls’ income generating capacity at the household level, and thereby change family

14% of all GEM had experienced violent conflict in the areas where they had lived and 9% had been
internally displaced1. Across GEM site locations in all three regions, GEM participating girls
attracted the attention of others as conflict solvers. Others began turning to them and seeking
their assistance in mediating and resolving conflicts, within the family, school, and in some cases,
community context. In one case, a girl was able to resolve long term family disagreement between
two brothers.

I can say that this program does not teach only academics for the children. I don’t know what they give-
what kind of training… But these girls become negotiators in the house. They are not hot when problems
are raised in the house. They just help us get to a solution. They say ‘cool down, let’s discuss.’  -Father
of Hotie Secondary School student, Amhara

I have seen that she has become a teacher of our family as well as in our area. Some people fight or insult
others, like me-- I usually insult when I am disappointed. If people are fighting in the area, she makes
herself like a teacher, telling them, “Fighting is not good. Don’t do it. Go calm down. Fighting will not do
anything for you.” In that way, people will not kill one another or harm each other. We have started to
accept what she says as true.
-Mother of Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella
(Note: This particular site experienced mass ethnic conflict in recent years, and ten people were killed 5 km
from this school site during the girls’ 9th grade year)

In the area where I live, people come to me when there is a problem. The attention of many people is on
me. Why do they come to me thinking directly, think that I can solve the problem? What do I have which
cannot be done by others? Maybe there is a change that has happened to me that makes people think I
can do that. Maybe that is why they want to involve me in their activities. Before this program, that chance
was not there. People were not thinking of me in this way.
- Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

After participating in the project, girls in all studied sites cited incidences of reporting gender
violations. They had themselves stood up to incidents, protected others or reported to girls' clubs,
GEM trainers, school committee members, tutorial teachers and student administrations. In one
case, a girl accompanied a fellow student who was being stalked, defended her when the boy wanted
to force the girl to drop out, prevented an attempt of rape and helped the girl report the case to
the police. The boy was later imprisoned. GEM girls also were also witnessing to be teaching
other non-GEM girls to stand up for their rights. At the macro-level, during exposure visits, girls
visited parliamentarians raised issues like why gender laws on the books were not being enforced at
the local level, and why gender was not featured more prominently in public school curriculum.

My uncle’s wife has delivered a girl -child in the rural area. The mother was about to mutilate the girls’
organ. I convinced my aunt not to do it, by presenting all the negative impact on the child’s life. With the
support of my father, we visited the other woman practicing FGM in the village and told her not to do such
things to other girls.
- Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

While the GET SET project, joined forces with the GEM project, toward the end of the project
period, it is recommended that components of GET SET be incorporated into future iterations of
the GEM project so that even greater strides in combating gender violence can be made.

Various stakeholders expressed their confidence that if girls demonstrated their devotion for
struggling for gender equality at such a young age, they had no doubt they would become leaders of
gender equality during their adult careers. In the schools where stakeholders reported particularly
successful results, community leaders expressed hope for the girls’ ability to impact larger societal

We will have good girl leaders in the future. They have liberated themselves from all harmful traditional
practices, and they are free. They have started girls’ equality for men. Even in the future, these girl students
may involve themselves in different activities in society, not only in school, even outside. They will play a
great role in many activities.
-School administrator at Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

Everybody in the community sees these adolescent girls as bringing good things in the future. The way they
act, they way they practice activities in the school, in the community… these girls are really a special group
of girls and will bring something for the woreda in the future. I am saying from the bottom of my heart. If
you go out of here, if you ask someone in the town and who is not involved in this project, even they will tell
-Teacher at Pinyudo Secondary School, Gambella

Not only for us, but for NGOs and the woreda, these students have brought a change not only for
themselves, not only for me and other parents, but if this program continues, we have a big hope that there
will a change in the woreda itself. (School director adds to his comment: ‘If we have more continuation on
this program, the woreda has ensured that this program will change the world’.)
-Father of Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

In sum, it seems that, while the primary benefit from participating in project devolved directly upon
the GEM beneficiary girls, secondary ripple effects could be witnessed among girls’ peers, girls’
families, the school community, and the wider community.

              PROC ES S OF E M POW ER NG G R LS ?

Again and again, project participants cited that it was the devotion of particular people, be they
mentors, tutorial teachers, parents, school administrators, committee members or others who
made the project successful. Committed persons were defined as those who followed up on the
progress of students on a daily basis, advising and counseling them. These individuals excelled
beyond the performance of their peers. For example, the father of one student in Gambella devoted
his time coming to teach additional tutorial classes and practicing basic literacy with the Gambellan
students. One tutorial teacher in Amhara spent additional weekend time outside the allotted time
for tutorials and paid for learning resources for the girls out of his own pocket. One school
administrator was hired during the second year of the project. He saw that the program had been
virtually forgotten and he took it upon himself to ensure that every intervention of the program
began occurring without interruption and with attention to quality.

As a director, I was not here last year. When I came, I was told there were students in the GEM project.
But I could see no difference in them compared to others. I was introduced to the GEM manual when I
found it lying on the table. When I read the manual, I was introduced to these students, how they are
special students, how are they different from other students, how the objective is for them to be examples
for others. I started to follow every activity of the GEM project. After I became serious, their absences
lessened over time. They started coming on their own initiative and became concerned about their classes.
Before this, they were just regular students. What I have seen, from when I came and what I see at the end
of the day is completely different.       -School administrator at Pinyudo Secondary School, Gambella

Project participants and stakeholders in various locations also named the following types of
institutional relationships and conditions as catalysts that triggered change:
     ♦ School administration that closely monitors and follows the project progress
     ♦ Devotion of the community
     ♦ Good relationship and close contact with the implementing NGO
     ♦ Institutions at various levels united around the cause of girls’ empowerment

I have been teacher throughout the duration of this two year project. Last year, the girls were still exhibiting
the normal condition of students in the woreda. Not only the children last year, but the school itself was not
changed. It all depends on the school administration. The administration was poor last year. The school
shouldn’t wait for what is being brought from Pact. There is need to control, a big job of controlling. When
tutorial is going on, it should not be that Pact Gambella has to come and make sure it is occurring; the
administration should follow it up. The school administration was not serious to follow the program, so the
girls were not serious. Last year there was no change because there was no support from the surrounding
people. But this year, there has been a change of administration which has brought change, starting from
the school staff down to students. This year, every GEM activity carried out has brought about change.
- Teacher, HIV/AIDS Club focal person and committee member, Pinyudo Secondary School, Gambella

In terms of the institutional environment, when various institutions were committed to the cause of
girls’ empowerment, efforts were mutually reinforcing and contributed to change. Concerted effort
of collaboration on the part of many participants is what made the program successful as a whole.
However, in areas where GEM was the only institution working on these issues, the relative growth

of change was much greater, even though the sites were not as advanced, in absolute terms, as in
areas where multiple institutions were contributing to girls’ empowerment.

In addition, the mentality of management contributed to project successes, as failures. When staff,
particularly field level staff, demonstrated adequate planning, follow through on commitments, and
attentive mentoring, the girls’ progress, as well as stakeholders’ performance improved.
Conversely, when a rigid or limited conception of girls’ empowerment was communicated, this
rippled through the network of project participants.

Project stakeholders noted that financial support engendered greater commitment on the part of
students to participate in project activities. When teachers compared the attendance of GEM girls
at tutorial sessions, compared with attendance at the tutorial, GEM girls attendance neared 100%
participation, while other tutorials would average 33% participation of students. The reward of
financial support also acted as an incentive for girls to keep up good grades, for fear they would be
dropped from the program, if they scored poorly. Rewards also acted as an incentive at the family
level, in which receiving financial support that decreased burden on household finances, and led to
an increased willingness of family members to cooperate with the parameters of the program.
Rewards also served as an incentive at the school level, where material resources for clubs and
opportunities to participate in professional development activities enlarged the willingness space of
schools to collaborate with the project.

                  N TH E PROC ES S OF E M POW ER NG G R LS ?

Assessment findings show that when the foundational managing institutions were weak-- including
support provided by the implementing NGO partner staff, follow-up and supervision provided by
the girls’ empowerment advisory committee, and mentoring and tutoring provided by teachers—
then girls’ academic performance, economic development and life skills changes were
correspondingly weak. Rapid staff turnover at the level of school or implementing partner
negatively impacted institutional strengthening efforts. In one site, systematic problems were noted
that led to high absenteeism among teachers and students at tutorials, inconsistent monitoring and
mentoring, poor communication between teachers and parents, decline in girls’ academic
performance, and development of an attitude of entitlement, that receiving a monthly stipend was a
right regardless of participation in the program. In contrast, at other GEM sites, where supporting
institutions were functional or strong, they supported one another to overcome weaknesses,
benefited from investment in capacity building, and girls’ progress in all areas was correspondingly

A focus group at one school demonstrated that teachers were not providing adequate tutoring or
mentoring and that parents were unaware of the academic deterioration of their students. This
indicates the need for continuous follow-up and monitoring, especially for schools located in remote
rural areas. This need for follow-up in remote areas also indicates the need for an adequate
number of empowerment workers to cover distant and remote schools.

The importance of ensuring institutions are strong and functional cannot be undervalued. Future
girls’ programming must evaluate core institutions at the field site level, providing capacity building
to improve progress, conducting timely, ongoing monitoring and evaluating, and devising or selecting
alternatives when core institutions do not prove to be functional.

Despite a holistic set of empowerment interventions and the support of a host of institutions, girls
were not necessarily able to overcome the cultural systems within which they operate. j

Of course, there is a sort of limitation. Even though we are getting empowered with regard to decision
making, we cannot practice to the extent of our interest because of the cultural factors. We cannot be
outside of the cultural limits. Sometimes doing good things may not be acceptable in our culture. The
culture limits us in practicing that empowerment.
- Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

There is not homogenous development in all aspects, not only upon them but upon on us [project
stakeholders]. There is cultural domination which cannot be eradicated within a very short time. These
children are fast and open-minded, good orators, good speakers that they have the capacity to influence
others. But there are also silent girls; some of them are not in a position to express themselves because of
the cultural references. In Ethiopian society, children should not talk in front of parents. I see some things
that are not changed. They have the capacity to convince, but we cannot take this for granted that all of
them are not in the same situation.
-School administrator and committee member, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

In Gambella, community condoning of harmful traditional practices was at such an extent that girls
did not feel empowered to stand up against these practices. Some change was evidenced in the
area of reproductive health knowledge, communication and behavior, but not enough to counteract
the influence of the surroundings, when the GEM project was the only civil society intervention
working on these issues in the area.

On the girls’ health, we cannot say that we have seen a big change. In particular, the area of reproduction is
still tied with the culture.
-Mother of Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

Traditional practices we see are connected with the culture. Especially, at this time, you can see many
children pregnant, before reaching the age of womanhood. It seems that it is child abuse. But when you see
the way the community acts, it is accepted. When you send your child to school, if she is young, she can be
cheated by a big person or by money. There is no open discussion. There is no way you can bring up, “this
problem has happened to my daughter”. The problem is that it’s related with the culture. When it
happens, you see the child is pregnant. If you feel angry, you call the boy to be beaten. If the culture allows
him to say ‘I love her and so she is my wife’, then the relatives support that and let them marry. When the
girl becomes 20, she will think, 'this wasn't my choice’ and he will want another wife. In the middle those
problems, the culture accepts it. That’s the problem. If you say something, this is the culture, there is nothing
we can do.
-Pinyudo Secondary School student, Gambella

However some girls debated their level of empowerment among one another. They recognized
that the prevailing cultural norms inhibited them, but felt that within themselves, they were
empowered; it was simply a matter of being able to apply their empowerment within their cultural
context. Others felt they had to compromise part of themselves in order to cope with the
limitations of cultural expectations.

On the contrary, we are fully confident! The problem is how to practice that confidence in the society
because of the cultural problems that arise. If we disregard the problem of the culture, we can say we are
fully empowered.
-Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

We just make a compromise between forces inside ourselves and outside in the environment.
- Kedame Gebeya Secondary School, Amhara

While many project participants clearly articulated the ripples of girls’ efforts, others did not see the
impact of the girls as having substantial impact on wider change because of their small numbers and
lack of reach out into the wider community.

The impact of the target girl students to the community is not, as such, influential, because on the one hand,
the number of target students as compared to total population is negligible. There was no extensive activity
done within the community. There was not that much assistance to help those students to work in their
community. Due to this there, was a little encouraging change, but it was not substantial.
- Teacher Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

Other girls reported that they strove to apply their empowerment or share their new knowledge
with others, but they were not always adequately heeded because of their status in the social

One couple in my village was quarreling over the use of birth control. The wife wanted to use birth control,
but her husband was not willing to do so. I tried to practice my empowerment to convince this couple.
Unfortunately, the husband said, ‘Who are you? When did you learn about this? You cannot teach me.’
There are deeply rooted social problems which really discourage us girl students from fully practicing our
- Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

Our influence on the community is not that much. For example in the area of advocating on early marriage,
even though we try to advocate, people do not accept our suggestions because they are not educated. The
target girl students are not enough to really influence them.
- Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

The Gambella experience, in particular, demonstrated a wide gap in the equality of men and women
that GEM girls were not always able to bridge.

We always say that men and women should be equal. But, in practice, there is a very big gap. Even if you
say something in a meeting, people say, “Keep quiet please. Your ideas are women’s ideas and will not go
anywhere. But a man’s ideas will help the community.”
- Pinyudo secondary school student, Gambella

                       RIIPPLE OUT TO OTHERS?
                       R PP LE OUT T O OTH ER S?

Were investments in girls’ empowerment localized to the girls participating in the project, or did
they have a multiplier effect on other girls, the school community, girls’ families or the wider
community? Qualitative research unearthed the following ripple effects from greater empowerment
efforts among adolescent girls participating in the GEM project.

Through this project, even if you have a small number of beneficiaries, you have other beneficiaries that you
don't know.       -Parent, Hotie Secondary School, Amhara

In my opinion, these 33 girls have 33 friends or more. So they influence these 33 friends. And they can
then influence another 33.
-School administrator and committee member, Kedame Gebeya Secondary School, Amhara

In almost all sites, GEM girls were noted to be educating and sharing academic and life skills
information with their peers, informally, through peer-to-peer contact, as well as formally through
organized tutorials and dramatic presentations. They shared information on academics, family
planning, and harmful traditional practices, as well as other skills like problem-solving and
negotiation. Many educated younger siblings at home, study partners or friends and colleagues at
school. Girls with origins in distant rural areas often shared newly gained knowledge, both academic
and life skills, with rural peers when they visited home during school breaks-- particularly in

Participating GEM girls attracted the attention of youth, both girls and boys, most often in the area
of life skills, as well as in academics. Stakeholders in various GEM sites found that the school
community had begun considering the girls as role models. Some girls in the South noted that their
own successes motivated their younger brothers and sisters to begin attending school.

Advocacy made by targeted girls inspired others to be like them.
-Project stakeholder at Gidole Secondary School

While I was in grade 9, I was the only girl who passed biology. The other girls said, ‘if I were you, I would be
happy’. I think I was a role model for them.
-Kedame Gebeya Secondary School student, Amhara

In an environment like Ethiopia, it is not a few vulnerable girls who are in need. The majority of girls
are vulnerable, and the 33 girls who are picked out of a student body of 2000 feel very lucky.

Both parents and teachers at schools in the South and in Amhara found that girls not selected as
beneficiaries “felt discomfort” and considered themselves as neglected and lacking attention or
support from the government. At one school in the South gossiping developed around girls
involved in the GEM project, and participating girls were termed as ‘beggars’.

                    XIIII.. WHAT IIS RECOMMENDED FOR
                    X       WH AT S REC O M MEN D ED F OR
                  FUTUR E G R L S EM PO W ERM EN T PRO E CTS?

The Girls’ Empowerment Project found that most girls and project stakeholders felt that economic,
academic, life skills, and institutional interventions were interrelated and that all needed to
accompany one another, in order to produce holistic empowerment results for adolescent girls. If
the interventions are taken out of context, overall effectiveness would be minimized.

However, the holistic approach must be customized to the localities of each GEM site. For instance,
in Gambella, the contextual factors demand more attention to strengthening the academic and
reproductive health components of the program. In a location where there is high migration from
remote rural areas, the project may need to encourage the importance of economic strengthening
and group housing, so on and so forth.

In regions like Amhara, a large number of NGOs and other actors are operating and government
institutional support has been mobilized around awareness of girls’ issues. While a large number of
girls continue to be vulnerable in this region, it was demonstrated that school administration, girls’
clubs, girls empowerment committees, local media and local governing institutions were sufficiently
committed, conscientized, and capacitated and would likely take up the baton of girls’
empowerment, in the absence of international donor support. This is the point of strengthening
girl-enabling institutions: that they grow to the point that they can continue independently.

However, peripheral, border, pastoral and ethnic minority regions of Ethiopia did not demonstrate
this consciousness of girls’ empowerment issues, nor institutional strength to independently
undertake activities. In Gambella, hardly any NGOs exist, and those that do exist are mostly
church-based small-scale activities. In many parts of Ethiopia, drama has become a common form of
youth efforts to reach the community. However, in Gambella educational drama, unlike the rest of
Ethiopia, was a new phenomenon, and thus had a much larger impact. In future activities, Gambella,
as well as the extremely remote regions of the South, warrant more investment in terms of human
resource capacity building, number of girls reached, and scale of donor financial investment. In
addition, other regions of Ethiopia where girls face extreme disempowerment should be explored
for investment. These could include: Afar, Somali and Benishangul Gumuz.

Findings indicated that girls in remote school sites, either from the NGO implementing partner
office, or distant from easily accessible roads and transport lines experienced less regular and
consistent monitoring and mentoring, which affected their progress, relative to other girls. When
budgeting to invest peripheral, border, pastoral and ethnic minority regions of Ethiopia, it should be
noted that populations are usually more dispersed, transport costs usually higher, and vehicle repair
costs higher, while public transportation means are few and far between. It is recommended that
future iterations of girls’ empowerment interventions budget adequately for staff and transport
facilities to regularly visit and monitor remote project sites. In the process of regular visits, local
committee members can be coached into become champions and dedicated mentors of girl
students, so that they are not as dependent on outside support.

In various sites, complaints arose around the selection of beneficiaries. At one school in the South,
those who were not selected accused selectors of prioritizing particular girls. In Gambella, school
committees were accused of favoring those girls with whom they had personal ties.

The selection process needs to be made more transparent both in terms of criteria. In addition,
while ‘insiders’ to the community are important in identifying vulnerable girls, ‘outsiders’ should be
involved in the final selection process, to ward against favoritism.

Some project stakeholders suggested that since the proportion of vulnerable girls in each school is
so high, beneficiaries should be selected by quota or lottery.           However, a more strategic
recommendation suggests that, while a huge number of girls studying in the rural Ethiopian context
can be considered as vulnerable, future projects should give priority in terms of beneficiary selection
first to orphans, secondly to girl-headed households, and thirdly to other vulnerable girls,
particularly those with extenuating circumstances and those coming from pastoral background.

The scholarship component is not rewarding a few disadvantaged girls, amidst a group of those
better off. It is operating in a situation where there are almost no outside supports and all girls face
enormous challenges, and the school system is weak. Although this is argument is somewhat true
across all of Ethiopia, it is most relevant in Gambella. Due to this factor, project stakeholders and
girls recommended to make the program performance-based, in which girls who demonstrate
commitment to achieving academically become the ones to be selected to participate in the

Academic criteria as well as vulnerability status were considered as selection criteria in the first
phase of the project. In sites where academic performance was not closely connected to
continuance in the program, girl’s academic and behavior progress faltered. So it seems to be
important to make the reward make continued participation in the program dependent upon
demonstration of effort in academics and participation in GEM empowerment activities.

Teachers, parents and participating GEM girls noted that by 8th grade, many girls had already been
forced to discontinue their education due to economic constraints, family pressure, early marriage
and a host of other barriers. National education statistics substantiate this trend, showing that the
net enrollment ratio of 77.7% of girls enrolled in lower primary school (grades 1-4) drops to 36.7%
when girls transition to upper primary school (grades 5-8) 1.

GEM participating girls in 10th grade ranged in age from 15 to 27. Those GEM participants who had
children and other domestic responsibilities found it challenging to make time for regular schooling,
let alone other GEM empowerment activities. Gambella stakeholders and program participants
noted that almost all girls participating in the program were married by 8th grade, and this severely
constrained their ability to participate fully in GEM.

Across the three regions, stakeholders suggested that GEM intervene at the critical transition to
upper primary school in 5th grade, as 5th graders were less likely to be married or have children, but
were still likely to have reached the age of adolescence. If a future iteration of this project were to
be implemented, it would be advisable to target upper primary schools that feed their enrollment
into GEM secondary schools. This would capitalize on human resources investment and ensure that

these girls entered a welcoming environment where girl-enabling institutions had been built upon
their continuation to higher grades.

Some recommended that for girls to be seen as role models in their communities, the project
should support them all the way through the completion of secondary school, from 9th through the
12th grades. Financially, the project has helped them build a savings base from their monthly stipend
and they gradually learned how to manage their money more effectively. However, the assessment
uncovered that many of the girls felt their savings base will not be sufficient to support them
through the next two years of schooling to complete 12th grade. Some expressed that if girls begin
the program and then drop out after 10th grade, a negative expectation that girls drop out in the
middle might be created among community members. Project stakeholders thought it was also
important to support girls up to the critical transition point of university level schooling.

This project could be very effective, if it could take all these children to the university level so that their result
could be clearly observed. Effort so far is very encouraging, but it is not an end in itself. They are still in
need of critical help. This is not a full cycle project. If the cycle is terminated at this moment, it could not be
learning. Students will regress to the place where they were.
- Brother of Tana Hayik Secondary School student, Amhara

To alleviate this problem, the duration of the project should be extended to four years, to the extent that
secondary school girls could finalize secondary school. After that they will be mentally and physically mature
and will be in a position to join university. At university level, the government could assist them. At the
minimum, it is important to design the project in such a way that the duration is four years.
- Teacher, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

One GEM girl at Gidole Secondary School spoke of the need for sustained support through a
schooling cycle by adeptly pointing out:

An athlete is considered as a winner when she runs through the gate and breaks the ribbon, not at the start
of the race… so think about sustainability.
-Gidole Secondary School student, SNNPR

Despite the fact that it was known from the outset that the GEM project was a two-year project,
expectations developed around continued funding of girls beyond 10th grade. Whether due to truly
felt need or a desperate plea to keep the monthly stipends coming, many project stakeholders and
girls mentioned that they felt they would return to destitution and “daily laborer status” following
the termination of the project and 8% of girls felt they had no alternatives if project support were to
stop 1.

If this project does not extend for two more years, we are stressed that target students will come back to
their previous tragedy, because they don’t have anyone to assist them at the family or community level.
-Teacher and committee member, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

These sentiments undercut the power of a girls’ empowerment project, when girls feel they will fail
without monthly, ongoing support from outside. While the perceived goal of this project, in the
minds of project participants, was to help girls complete school and succeed, it is recommended that

future projects begin with the clear premise of developing a mindset among girls to be able to
sustain themselves and maintain continued progress following the cessation of the project. This
goal may be achieved by gradually transitioning away from monthly stipends or replacing them with
economic strengthening activities as mentioned in below recommendations. Creating this mentality
among the girls is less a phase-out strategy, and more of a handover process, in which girls receive
the baton and transition into being fully responsible for their economic sustenance and success.

The assessment showed that the more functional and active a committee, the more involved and
effective was the participation of other stakeholders and the more effective was functioning of
specific girls' interventions. In the context of a handful of active member, while others were
comparatively less active, stakeholders suggested that individuals should be selected to serve on the
committee based on their own willingness to volunteer or that members be selected on the basis of
their commitment and devotion to girls’ causes. Committees need close monitoring and follow up
by implementing NGOs, especially in the early months of their formation. When made strong they
can continue on, past the life of the project intervention. The issue of compensation, both to the
committee and to others serving the project (tutorial teachers) was the source of much debate. It
is recommended that this issue be discussed in depth according to the context, policies and
experiences of participating institutions in a future follow-on intervention, rather than making a
broad recommendation to serve all contexts in this paper.

The assessment showed that there were some cases, though not all, in which stakeholders reported
that girls became dependent on the monthly stipend or experienced pressure from others to share
the stipend. While many GEM girls received outside support prior to project intervention, 85%
girls at the end of project intervention did not receive external support 1. This assessment
recommends that more attention will be focused on economically empowering the parents and
caregivers to support the girl, especially if intervening at a 5th grade level. The Nike Foundation has
looked at leveraging on a macro-scale. Working with a family also strengthens leveraging at the
micro-level: the private sector contribution to education through the mechanism of the family.
Strengthening a family will enable them to support not just one girl, but a host of other girl and boy
children as well. This strategy also invests in longer term capacity building that will outlive the life
of the project.

This approach would engage parents and caregivers, rather than 5th grade girls, as the primary agents
in economic strengthening activities. International research has shown that community-managed
loan funds show greater rates of success, when drawing on internally generated savings, rather than
externally funded funds3. Research also shows that programs targeting vulnerable children have
been more successful when caregivers were involved, as opposed to younger children4. However,
the girls would be brought into the process, made aware of activities and occasionally attend their
caregivers’ weekly economic meetings. An empowerment intervention of this nature should work
closely with families and stipulate that the first financial gains must be used for girls’ educational
purposes, and then for other subsistence purposes.

    Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. Community-managed Loan Funds: Which Ones Work? May 2006.
    USAID, AED and Save the Children. Economic Strengthening for Vulnerable Children, February 2008.

Strengthening the economic capacity of families will create a multiplier effect not just on the girls
participating in the GEM project, but on their numerous brothers and sisters. This will also help to
ensure that girls do not face continued economic constraints to proceed in their education after the
project phases out.

Even though they are highly capacitated through different trainings, the financial aspect is still not resolved.
-Teacher and committee member, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara

The GEM project focused on provision of financial assistance through scholarships. Were girls
adequately prepared to economically empower themselves following the termination of project
support? While 85% of girls expressed the view that would like to use their savings to start a
business, only 4% felt they could support their continued education using from their savings 1. In
select places, a few groups of girls began investing savings by growing vegetable gardens on the
school compound, many GEM girls did not feel adequately equipped to support themselves through
future education.

The financial support was nice in terms of fulfilling our basic necessities. Initially, we were poor and we didn’t
have anything. If we compare our current status with the previous lifestyle, it is great financially. Yet, in
terms of empowering our financial position in the future, it is better if the project helps us fulfill employment
opportunities and pave the way for us to get employed or earn a living, rather than simply providing seed
- Merawi Secondary School student, Amhara

This discussion aptly raises the question of whether scholarship programs should be used to invest
in girls or whether girls should be included in broader economic empowerment approaches. The
results of this assessment suggest that a combination of both may be appropriate. Girls may need an
initial ladder to keep them from dropping out of school due to outside factors. However, girls
should not remain or become accustomed to the provision of regular financial support. They are
more likely to be able to maintain their participation in school following the life of the scholarship, if
they gain the skills to continuously involve themselves in economic empowerment.

Project organizers recognized the need for the income-generating capacity of girls to be built over
the life of the project rather than waiting until girls are at the eleventh hour and about to leave the
program. Future girls’ empowerment interventions should incorporate, from the start, a greater
focus on economic empowerment so that business skills and income generation are incorporated
from the beginning of a girl’s participation in empowerment activities.

Future empowerment interventions for girls could incorporate economic empowerment activities
where girls will learn about business development, financial management and specific business skills,
and engage in income generation activities. They would save weekly and will draw down credit from
their group savings to start small businesses or to invest in further skills training, such as secretarial
studies or nursing, according to the market needs and opportunities in their specific areas. One of
the primary goals of the intervention should be to enable girls to generate self-employment
opportunities. The regular meeting would also serve the function of a support group where girls
can share their problems and concerns, receive ongoing mentoring in life skills development and
participate in experience sharing.

Some project stakeholders felt that if girls were engaged too heavily in income generation, while
simultaneously trying to complete school, their focus on their studies would be diluted, and

academic progress would suffer. International studies have shown that when vulnerable children are
engaged in income generation activities, they tend to schedule this around their school and study
time5. In addition, 307 of the girls reported that they were already members of savings and credit
groups, though not through any formal intervention of the project 1. This lays the groundwork for
willing participation in other savings, credit and income generation activities.

When incorporating economic strengthening into a project for in-school girls, attention needs to
focused on ensuring that economic empowerment activities are not too time-intensive. One
strategy may be to focus on group activities, for instance, opening a school kiosk which is jointly
managed by girls, where girls share responsibility for managements and where dividends are spread
across contributors. Some girls asked for start-up capital after having undergone training, for
instance, receiving a computer or hairdressing equipment, in order to start a business. However, it
may not be advisable to provide this equipment gratis, unless it be through the process of a low
interest or deferred loan, through which girls develop a sense of accountability for privileges

The findings of this assessment substantiated that rewards trigger change. However, in order for
rewards to be sustained, and in order for girls’ empowerment programs to be scaled up across a
wider reaching cross-sector of girls, it is recommended that girls develop the ability to generate
their own rewards. If scholarships and stipends are gradually phased out and replaced with
economic strengthening activities, girls may complain, at first. Parents and community members may
take longer to develop acceptance and trust of the project. And community may have to
experiment with trial-and-error efforts to find the types of economic empowerment activities that
are most feasible for adolescent girls and most suited to local market conditions. However, despite
these hurdles, it is expected that economic strengthening activities will produce longer-term, more
sustainable returns on investment, than mere scholarships and stipends.

Various project stakeholders reported that when girls received cash, they were more likely to spend
it on frivolous expenditures and were more likely to experience pressure from caregivers and other
children to use the money for family sustenance and other family members’ needs. The project
experimented with in-kind purchase of supplementary texts, but found this difficult with girls at the
secondary school level who had a diverse set of learning needs.

It is suggested that in a future iteration of the GEM project, girls receive in-kind support, in the form
of school supplies, uniforms, reference books, sanitary napkins, and other necessary materials,
particularly if future projects intervene at the 5th grade level. The cash that girls receive should be
generated through participation in economic strengthening activities, either of the girls themselves
or on the part of their families. However, special attention to needs to be paid to the case of
orphans and girls who had migrated from rural areas, because these girls are responsible for paying
for rent, household equipment and other sustenance needs.


    USAID, AED and Save the Children. Economic Strengthening for Vulnerable Children, February 2008.

GEM project stakeholders noted, in a number of locations that, in the early stages of the project,
girls tended to spend unwisely, on a number of frivolous pursuits. In some schools, project
stakeholders reported that committee members or parents tried to advise girls on wiser spending
habits, but this monitoring was not consistent. Future iterations of girls’ empowerment project
should include detailed education on how to manage finances, how to account for expenditures, and
how to plan and budget. This training should be accompanied by monitoring by stakeholders and

Cultural traditions of communal living greatly influenced the expectations of those living amidst the
girls, that the girls share their money with community and family members around them. It is
suggested to specifically address this issue head-on in future iteration of girls’ empowerment
programs. Girls should be taught how to negotiate the issue with their families, and training should
be made to be culturally appropriate to the specific context, as the Anywak philosophy around the
sharing and spending of money might be very different than the Amhara context. The GEM project
is also introducing the concept of investing in individuals in a setting where all resources are shared
among a community. The introduction of this cultural value should be carefully examined by project
funders and implementers.

During GEM I, it was found that, when vocational skills training was instituted, existing market
assessment were either scanty, hard to access, not timely, or expensive to conduct. Future girls’
empowerment interventions should develop an approach to conducting market assessments and
market system analyses in which information can be obtained in a timely, inexpensive and effective
manner, and information can be flexibly adapted to the exigencies of the area. Collaborating with
active private sector institutions may be valuing in gaining access to this type of market information.
Most importantly, market assessments and market system analyses should incorporate a value chain
perspective, looking at how the economic activities of girls and their families will have wider

The first phase of the GEM project, substantially involved civil society (through NGO implementing
partners and other networking groups) as well as public institutions (schools, Women’s Affairs
offices, etc.). However, in order to cope with evolving market needs and demands, it is advisable to
involve private sector partners in future iterations of the Girls Empowerment and Management
project. Collaboration with the private sector should address the value chain approach and aim to
economically empower girls to sustain themselves, rather than providing monthly installments, or
dead-end skills training. Involving the private sector may have the ultimate effect of engaging girls
and their families in economic development, that is relevant, timely and connected to broader

Economic strengthening activities should link with other mutually supporting activities like youth
employment initiatives, skills training opportunities, and the government’s Small and Micro-
Enterprise Development Strategy. For instance, this Micro-Enterprise Strategy targets female-
operated enterprises, school drop-outs and unemployed youth. Through this program, the

government provides entrepreneurship and business management training, appropriate technology
research, market support, information and counseling, business support services, and help with
access to credit and basic infrastructure for small businesses. Linking with ongoing activities and
government-sponsored initiatives will ensure a laddering effect of GEM activities to other ongoing
economic development opportunities.

As Ethiopian society is based on raw commodities, food preparation is time and labor intensive.
The constraints of poverty have not allowed for widespread use of time-saving tools, like convenient
water supplies and cooking devices. Future iterations of girls’ empowerment projects warrant
connecting girls’ families with water pumps, energy-saving stoves and other time-saving and fuel-
saving alternatives so that instead of redistributing workload to mothers or non-GEM girls, families
can make household labor more efficient.

The assessment showed that, because of the overall poor quality of the academic system, greater
reinforcement of the educational empowerment component is needed. Tutorial support from
teachers helped GEM participants to improve their academic progress compared to non-
participating girls, but that tutorial could be made much more effective if teachers were to use more
effective teaching methods.

In future iterations of girls’ empowerment initiatives in the Ethiopian context, tutorial teachers need
to be trained in sensitivity to basic concepts of girls’ empowerment as well as principles of active
learning, effective pedagogy and student-centered instruction. Tutors should be trained through
active training in which they model effective tutorial teaching and contrast it with ineffective tutorial
teaching, using group self-evaluation to improve their performance. Investing in the enhancement
of teachers’ skills will not only benefit the GEM girls, but will also reach the other students attending
teachers’ regular classes.

This experience of this first GEM project in Gambella showed that after focusing particularly on
reading and writing, girls reported significant improvement in comprehending written material on
across all subjects. Specific attention should be focused on English language since lack of
comprehension of English was found to be one of the most formidable academic barriers to girls’
academic success, and because 5th grade is the point at which many regional states transition to
English as primary language of instruction. Instituting English language strengthening in Grade 5 will
also serve to ensure that girls leave second cycle primary school and enter lower secondary school
with a much sounder comprehension of their subject material.

On their own initiative, several participating GEM schools established or strengthened libraries
where girls could study. This activity was initiated either by committees that took independent
initiative or implementing NGO that were utilizing this strategy in other girls’ empowerment
activities and so incorporated it into GEM.

It was found that when schools and committees independently initiated the practice of creating
special hours for girls to use libraries and instituting safe haven spaces for girls, this facility resulted

in increased ability to study-- away from parent demand for household labor-- and ensured greater
freedom from harassment by boys.

It is recommended that creation of safe havens and study spaces should be incorporated as a
mainstream intervention and a formal responsibility of GEM project stakeholders, rather than as an
add-on, additional volunteer activity in future iterations of girls’ empowerment activities.

Some project stakeholders suggested that further networking and linkages be established with higher
education institutions could better facilitate girls’ entrance into tertiary level education. While
strengthened linkages to women’s affairs offices and girl enabling institutions assisted girls at the
local level, greater linkages with regional tertiary education institutions, including universities,
teacher training institutes, private colleges and vocational institutions will more closely connect girls
to immediate next steps in their educational careers.

Many, many stakeholders recommended group housing for girls, especially those migrating from
rural areas, in order to protect them from sexual harassment, rape and other dangers, as well as
conserve on money spent on rent and household utensils. Future iterations of a girls’ empowerment
project should encourage vulnerable girls to pool together when renting accommodations. While
some local level stakeholders stressed the value of boarding facilities, however debate among
project implementers regarding the construction or management of boarding facilities, found this
suggestion to be costly, management-intensive nature and thus not feasible.

The ‘girl effect’ ripples section demonstrates how the success of GEM girls incited both competition
to work harder academically, as well as a sense of exclusion about from girls not benefiting directly
from the program.

It seems that focusing a large amount of resources on a small few greatly improved their lives, but
that others with same needs received only minor tangential benefit. Notwithstanding that the
usefulness of inciting academic competition, it recommended that the project seeks way to further
disseminate learning and privileges that GEM girls receive across other girls in the student body.
This could be done through cascade training of life skills, involving non-GEM girls in economic
interventions, tutoring of non-GEM students, or mentoring and role modeling for upper primary
school girls. While exclusion is an undesirable ripple, GEM girls themselves recommended that
rewarding good academic performance should be continued in order to motivate other girls.

Significant investment has been made in training human resources in and around the 15 secondary
schools that participated in the GEM project. Any future iteration of the project should maximize
that investment, leveraging GEM Phase I secondary school teachers, committee members and
mentors to train the staff of primary schools that would feed into these secondary schools. Since
great diversity was found in the commitment of committee members and other project

stakeholders, a future iteration of the project should select those who were most committed during
the first phase of the project to replicate training.

In addition, girls who participated in the first two years of the project are valuable human resources
whose talents could be exploited in future iterations of the project. These girls can be recruited to
become mentors and share their experiences and lessons learned with the younger cohort of girls
who are beginning 5th grade. In addition, incoming girls who received mentoring and empowerment
education will be responsible for cascading this training to their brothers and sisters and other
family members in order to enhance the multiplier effect that the GEM project is able to create.

This assessment revealed the need to incorporate greater attention on educating the male
community, parents, families and the wider community to become to become advocates against
harmful traditional practices and advocates for girls’ education and empowerment. Particularly in
Gambella, as well as in remote regions of the South, men and community members maintained
practice of cultural practices that disempowered girls. A future iteration of the project should
focus specific attention on interventions that target educating men and community members to
become girls’ advocates in all regions, but with special focus on Gambella, so that an enabling
environment becomes more engrained and sustains more than just the initial 500 girls participating
in this project.

It is noted that the Girls’ Empowerment Project was originally commenced with the following core
components: financial support, academic support, life skills support and institution strengthening
and sensitization and advocacy. Midway through the project, the Girls’ Empowerment Through
Sexual Exploitation Termination Project (GET SET) was added to the project, and supplemented the
project activities while influencing the conceptual framework of the GEM project. GET SET worked
with Women’s Affairs Bureaus, Regional Education Bureaus, health institutions and law enforcement
agencies at the woreda, regional and federal levels to combat gender violence.

It was found that project interventions were most effective when institutions worked collaboratively
and created a critical mass in support for girls’ empowerment. It is recommended that any future
iteration of the project incorporate this strengthening of institutions from the outset, so that the
timing of interventions that link with wider institutions (like health facilities, police stations, etc.), as
well as the gradual development of their capacity, corresponds with the timing of the unfolding of
the girls capacity. Project stakeholders as well as the girls themselves suggested that project
implementation start time coincide with the beginning of the school year, in order to minimize
timing and workload crunches at the end of the school year ( in particular with regards to provision
of tutorial and life skills training). The following conceptual framework, placed at the conclusion of
this section, is a suggested revision upon the conceptual framework of the first GEM project.

Future activities should also intensify efforts to invite government officials to visit project sites and
likewise link with media outlets to broaden the impact of the community education efforts. Girls
also suggested that public information materials produced by the project would have better impact if
they were distributed in accordance with the interests of the community, and in the language that
the community speaks.

The question arose in several GEM focus groups about whether it was more effective to
concentrate a significant amount of resources in a few girls or to disperse a small number of
resources over a wider number of students. In a $1 million project, with a $2000 per direct
beneficiary cost, the question of scale-up must be addressed. How can the project scale up to reach
a broader cross-section of girls without corresponding escalation of costs?                 Several
recommendations addressed above may begin to serve as solutions to this question, one being the
substituting provision of monthly stipends with economic strengthening activities in which girls
generate their own resources. Moving from a scholarship program to an economic empowerment
program, would enable the activity to scale up and reach a vaster number of girls with an equivalent
amount of monetary investment. In addition, existing human and infrastructure capacity that has
been built can be brought to bear upon future iteration of follow-on projects. Engaging GEM Phase
I secondary schools as coordination for primary feeder schools may also help increase the breadth
and reach of the project.

We are delivering this project to 33 girls in our school, but there are a number of girls who are in need of
the project morally, economically, and in every aspect. If this program widens its scope, it will help other
girls who are living even worse than these girls. I beg this project to reach other girls.
- Teacher, Tana Hayik Secondary School, Amhara


                        XIIIIII.. FROM PAPER IINTO ACTIION
                        X         FRO M P APE R N TO A CT ON

                  “Reports do not change the world, but champions can.” -Nancy Birdsall 6

It is hoped that the information collated through this report may not sit on a shelf, but be taken
up by stakeholders in the field of girls empowerment and thrust into action-- by contributing to
the effectiveness of future girls’ empowerment programs; by testing the applicability of the Nike
Foundation’s formula for change, the ‘Girl Effect’; as well as by providing qualitative and
quantitative information on the leveraging power that can result from investing in girls.

    Center for Global Development, Girls Count, 2008.

                                    XIIV.. ANNEXES
                                    X V ANNE X ES


Tana Hayik Secondary School
June 23, and 25, 2008 (Ghion and Tana Hayik schools represented)
    ♦ 15 GEM participating beneficiary girls
    ♦ 10 stakeholders and parents (5 female, 5 male)

Merawi Secondary School
June 23, 2008
    ♦ 14 GEM participating beneficiary girls
    ♦ 14 stakeholders and parents (3 female, 11 male)

Gidole Secondary School
June 30, 2008
    ♦ 15 GEM participating beneficiary girls
    ♦ 11 stakeholders and parents (2 female, 9 male)

Jinka Secondary School
July 2, 2008
     ♦ 14 GEM participating beneficiary girls
     ♦ 12 stakeholders and parents (3 female, 9 male)

Pinyudo Secondary School
July 21, 2008
     ♦ 14 GEM participating beneficiary girls
     ♦ 11 stakeholders and parents (2 female, 9 male)

Kedame Gebeye Secondary School
August 5, 2008 (Hotie and Kedame Gebeye secondary schools represented)
   ♦ 17 GEM participating beneficiary girls
   ♦ 18 stakeholders and parents (10 female, 8 male)

Center for Global Development. Girls Count, 2008.

Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. Community-managed Loan Funds: Which Ones Work? May

Ethiopia Ministry of Education, Education Statistics Annual Abstract, 2006-2007, February 2008.

Pact, GEM Statistical Report of Endline Survey Results, Pact, 2008.

USAID, AED and Save the Children. Economic Strengthening for Vulnerable Children. February


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