Adolescent Empowerment project changes lives of thousands
Dhaka, April 29, 2007 : Thousands of adolescents across the country have been equipped with knowledge on social issues and life skills-based education through the “Kishori Abhijan” project supported by UNICEF.
This was one of the main findings announced at the formal launching of the Kishori Abhijan project’s Baseline Survey Report at the city’s BIAM auditorium on Sunday.
The baseline survey undertaken between November 2006 and January 2007 was conducted jointly by the Johns Hopkins University/Center for Communication Programs and a local research agency SURCH.
It aimed to measure the social and behavioural aspects of the Kishori Abhijan project which include child marriage, birth registration, dowry, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, and drug and substance abuse.
The five-year project, covering 27 districts of Bangladesh and aiming to serve 600,000 adolescents including 50,000 boys – looks to improve the quality of life of vulnerable adolescents by empowering them to participate in decisions that affect their lives through education, livelihood strategies and increasing the age at marriage.
The Baseline Survey found that domestic violence against adolescents is still pervasive with self-reporting of physical abuse above 75 per cent among adolescent boys and above 50 per cent among girls of the same age group.
Moreover, among the country’s 28 million adolescents aged between 10 and 19, gender discrimination and child marriage are still prevalent and has life-long damaging consequences.
Prof. Israth Shameem, President, Center for Women and Children Studies, Ms. Judith Allen Graeff, Programme Communication Officer of UNICEF took part in the discussion while Mr. Ghasan Khalil, Chief of the Protection Section spoke on the occasion.
Through using a peer education approach, the Kishori Abhijan project aims to help such vulnerable adolescents become active agents of social change and create a supportive environment, especially for adolescent girls’ development at the household and community levels.
The project is implemented by Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, national and international NGOs including BRAC, CMES, and Save the Children while the European Commission is its primary funding agency.
In Bangladesh, adolescents constitute 22 percent of the population. Among them 13.8 million are girls. Given the socio-cultural environment of pervasive gender discrimination, girls are treated differently from birth, resulting in inequalities of nutrition, health, education and financial status.
For more information:
Arifa S. Sharmin
Communication Officer, UNICEF, Dhaka