Gender equality

Stories from the field

2015 International Day of the Girl Child

A girl inside her family’s partially destroyed home looks at the destruction outside, in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City
© UNICEF/State of Palestine/El Baba

The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030

UNICEF and its partners in all regions of the world are supporting investment in and empowerment of adolescent girls and the prevention and elimination of the various forms of violence they experience. Countries are exploring ways to better support families in positive parenting and effective communication for their adolescent girls, helping them manage risks and challenges, changing attitudes and social norms that encourage violence and discrimination against girls, implementing protective laws and policies, carrying out data collection and research, undertaking education and empowerment programmes, and taking direct action to address violence against girls.

  • Girls’ and Young Women’s Empowerment Framework

    (Zimbabwe) The Girls’ and Young Women’s Empowerment Framework is the first national framework for protecting and empowering girls and young women in Zimbabwe. The Framework has been developed through a consultative process with girls and other key stakeholders and was launched on 15 October  2014 to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child. The Framework’s vision is for empowered girls and young women to actively, effectively and meaningfully participate at all levels of social, economic and political development in Zimbabwe, with the goal of ensuring that at least 50% of girls and young women participate in these processes by 2020. 

    The Framework provides a guide for programming for girls and young women in the country, along with an action plan. The framework is divided into five key strategic areas of intervention with five related strategic goals in the areas of education, economic empowerment, safety and protection, reproductive health, and decision making and leadership. 

    The implementation of various empowerment initiatives will take place following the launch. In particular, the ongoing study on social determinants of violence against children will guide the design and planning of such initiatives to help adolescent girls address specific risks and social factors that make them vulnerable to violence in their homes, schools and communities.    


  • Helping children and adolescents manage risks and challenges

    Stepping Stones (South Africa, global)

    Originally developed as an HIV prevention programme, Stepping Stones is a life skills training intervention that was found to be effective at curbing physical and sexual intimate partner violence among male and female 15- to 26-year-olds. The programme, which has been rigorously evaluated and implemented globally, encourages participants to reflect on their attitudes and behaviour through role-playing and drama. Designed to improve sexual health by developing stronger, more equal relationships between partners, the programme addresses issues such as gender-based violence, communication about HIV, relationship skills and assertiveness. 

    Result: The programme has been evaluated in various countries: the most thorough study is a randomized controlled trial in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, with female and male participants aged 15-26. The findings indicated that, in the two-year period following the intervention, men experienced some reduction in violent and exploitative behaviour. Compared with the baseline, participants in the intervention were involved in fewer incidences of intimate partner violence, rape and transactional sex. 

    Smaller-scale evaluations of Stepping Stones in many other countries have shown a reduction in male perpetration of intimate partner violence, which further supports the findings of the Eastern Cape study. Stepping Stones stands alone as one of the few interventions to demonstrate effectiveness in reducing men’s violence against intimate partners. That the rate of violent behaviour continues to fall among men 24 months after the intervention following a 12-month drop suggests that positive behaviour change strengthens over time. 

    Further, qualitative research shows that Stepping Stones shifted attitudes, particularly among young men, by educating them on how they can reduce their personal risk to HIV and by encouraging much greater openness in talking about and sharing information about HIV. In the process, the programme appears to have instilled general life skills that made many of the men better partners, friends, family members and citizens. 

    For more information: Evaluation of HIV prevention & intervention programming

  • Changing attitudes and social norms that encourage violence and discrimination

    Soul City (South Africa)

    Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication is a Non-Government Organization (NGO) originally based in South Africa.  In partnership with the National Network on Violence Against Women (NNVAW), Soul City formulated an intervention to reach and teach communities about domestic violence through ‘edutainment’ – popular types of media such as television and radio. Rather than set up new offices, the programme recruits independent, local NGOs and supports them with training and resources to build a sustainable, self-reliant and locally branded communication platform. 

    By reaching the individual, community and social environments, Soul City’s mutually reinforcing education efforts have proven to be so successful that plans are in motion to expand the model to other countries.  Soul Buddyz, a multimedia project of Soul City, offers television, radio and interactive content that targets children aged 8-12 with potentially life-saving messages before they become sexually active, with strategies for dealing with bullying, racism, violence, sex and HIV/AIDS.

    Result: The results of an evaluation of the exposure to Soul City media from 1999 to 2000 revealed that Soul City reached 86 per cent, 25 per cent and 65 per cent of audiences through television, print booklets and radio, respectively. The evaluation also found a demonstrated link between public exposure to Soul City’s fourth series, which focused on domestic violence, and increased knowledge of support services: 41 per cent of respondents reported awareness of a South African helpline set up by Soul City.  

    This is entirely attributed to the fourth series and the joint National Network on Violence Against Women intervention as the line was established specifically for this purpose. Specifically, 16 per cent of people with no exposure to the fourth series compared to 61 per cent of respondents with exposure to a selection of 3 fourth series media knew about the Helpline.  Attitude shifts were also associated with the intervention, with a 10 per cent increase in respondents disagreeing that domestic violence was a private affair. Soul Buddyz was watched at least once by children aged 8-15, according to an assessment. 

    For more information: Sexual and Social health awareness and education




Concept note

The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030: 
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Key Messages

Vision for 2030 
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