Girls First | Bihar, India
Emotional resilience increased 33%
Health knowledge increased 99%
Attitudes about gender equality improved 18%
Clean water behaviors improved 96%
“This program empowers girls to face their society and their family members too.”
Background + Situation
95% of women have less than 12 years of education
54% of women do not participate in any decision-making on their own health, mobility and well-being
57% of adults ages 15-49 believe it is justifiable for a husband to beat his wife
82% of rural women ages 20-24 were married before age 18
68% of women had their first pregnancy before age 18
CorStone Response | Put Girls First!
Girls First | Bihar empowers marginalized adolescent girls in Bihar with knowledge, skills and support to improve their personal resilience and physical health, and to self-advocate for their right to stay in school and delay marriage.
Girls First attendees are 12-16 year old girls living in rural poverty. The typical attendee is the first generation in her family to attend school; is at high risk for trafficking, and will have few, if any, positive employment prospects beyond menial or household labor. Most are at risk for marriage at 14-16 years of age.
Girls First provides a holistic empowerment program, combining personal resilience training with curriculum in adolescent health. The 6-month program provides in-depth training in:
- character strength development
- social-emotional and communication skills
- problem-solving and conflict resolution
- nutrition, reproductive and sexual health, safe water, HIV/AIDS, malaria prevention and similar
Working in partnership with the Bihar Education Project Council, school principals, and local community-based organizations such as Integrated Development Foundation, Girls First is led by local community women and/or school teachers trained by CorStone as Program Facilitators
Building the Evidence | Influencing Policy
A rigorous multi-arm randomized controlled trial of Girls First with 3,500 girls in 70 schools was completed in 2014. Results, using internationally validated assessments, confirm significant improvements in emotional and physical well-being:
- Emotional resilience increased 33%. Girls receiving Girls First significantly improved their coping skills, self-confidence, courage, persistence, and ability to handle negative emotions relative to the control group. Girls receiving a traditional adolescent health program increased their resilience just 4%.
- Health knowledge increased 99%. Girls in Girls First significantly improved their physical health knowledge of HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, menstruation, anemia, malaria, clean water, substance use, and health consequences of early marriage, relative to controls. Health knowledge among girls receiving a traditional adolescent health program increased 78%. Both groups received the same amount of direct instruction about health issues.
- Attitudes about gender equality improved 18%. Girls in Girls First significantly improved their belief in gender equality, including their beliefs that it is equally important for boys and girls to attend school, and that there are never times when a woman deserves to be beaten. Attitudes among girls receiving a traditional adolescent health program improved only 8%. Both groups received the same amount of direct instruction about gender differences and women’s rights.
- Clean water behaviors improved 96%. Girls in Girls First significantly improved the behaviors that girls use to keep their water clean, including filtering, boiling, or chlorinating. Clean water behaviors for girls receiving a traditional adolescent health program improved only 37%. Both groups received the same amount of direct instruction about how to keep water clean.