Can Economic Assets Increase Girls’ Risk of Sexual Harassment? Evaluation Results from a Social, Health, and Economic Asset-Building Intervention for Vulnerable Adolescent Girls in Uganda

Karen Austrian, Population Council Kenya
Eunice N. Muthengi, Population Council Kenya

For adolescent girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, social isolation and economic vulnerability are critical problems that prevent a healthy transition from girlhood into womanhood. This study examines the effect of a multi-dimensional intervention on social, health and economic assets, as well as experiences of sexual harassment, among vulnerable adolescent girls aged 10-19 living in the low income areas of Kampala, Uganda. Using a natural experiment, the study compares girls who received the full intervention, with girls who received a savings account only, against a comparison group. Findings indicate that the full intervention was successful in improving girls’ health and economic assets. Girls who only received a savings account were more likely to have been sexually teased and harassed by men. This suggests that economic asset building on its own, without the protection afforded by strengthening social and health capabilities can leave vulnerable girls at increased risk of the sexual violence.

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Presented in Session 105: Investments in Children: Implications for Well-Being