International Women’s Day: ICRW Event to Focus on Investing in Adolescent Girls in Post-2015 Agenda

Article Date

04 March 2014

Article Author

By Gillian Gaynair

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) on March 5 will hold a discussion on investing in adolescent girls worldwide and release its initial evaluation findings from an innovative effort to delay girls’ age of marriage in India.

The panel discussion, “High Returns: How Investing in Adolescent Girls Today Will Pay Off Tomorrow,” is part of ICRW’s signature Passports to Progress series, which brings together a diversity of thought-leaders to spotlight timely global development issues. The series launched three years ago on International Women’s Day.

This year’s event takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Panelists will include Carla Koppell, chief strategy officer for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Howard Taylor, vice president and managing director of the Nike Foundation, Priya Nanda, director of reproductive health and economic empowerment programs for ICRW’s Asia Regional Office and Rachel Vogelstein, a fellow in the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and director of Women and Girls Programs in the Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Clinton Foundation. The panel will be moderated by Julie Katzman, executive vice president of the Inter-American Development Bank and an ICRW board member.

As the global development community crafts the next generation of development goals, it is critical that the unique needs of adolescent girls – including girls who are married – in developing nations are prioritized in the post-2015 agenda. This, ICRW has urged, includes ensuring that girls have access to high quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, the ability to attain an education and economic stability, among other opportunities. Without doing so, progress toward achieving global development goals such as reducing maternal mortality and ending poverty, will be slowed.

Panelists are expected to address some of these issues as well as talk about how early marriage, in particular, diminishes girls’ opportunities and undermines global development targets.

The event also will mark the release of “Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Girls Education,” a summary of research findings from ICRW’s study of a government program in the Indian state of Haryana. The innovative scheme launched in 1994, and offered a small cash disbursement to mothers within days of delivering a daughter. Within three months of her birth, the government bought a savings bond in her name. The bond was redeemable once the girl turned 18 – only if she remained unmarried.

The program was called Apni Beti Apna Dhan (ABAD) or “Our Daughter, Our Wealth.” 

The initial cohort of program beneficiaries turned 18 in 2012-2013, marking the first opportunity to determine whether the cash incentive was a sufficient motivator for delayed marriage. A sound evaluation of the ABAD program’s long-term benefit and its impact on the timing of marriage is a first-of-its-kind evaluation, offering key insights and lessons not only for the Indian government and policymakers, but many others across the world.

ICRW designed a rigorous evaluation of the program and collected data in 2012 from girls who were in the program and those who weren’t, just prior to their 18th birthdays. Researchers’ main interest was related to the youths’ educational attainment. The next survey will take place later in 2014, and will determine ABAD’s impact on delaying girls’ age of marriage.


Related blogs: Not Her Mother’s Daughter and A Price Too High
Related story: Motivation to Prevent Child Marriage

Gillian Gaynair is an independent writer and editor.