Improving the Lives of Adolescent Girls in Malawi

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© UNICEF/HQ96-1261/Pirozzi

Project Objectives

Within the overall objective of improving adolescent girls' status in society so that they can improve their participation in development activities at household school community and organizational level the project aims to:

  • Increase the number of girls taking up administrative posts at school, community, organization and district levels.
  • Improve girls' educational status.
  • Provide vocational skills for girls.
  • Improve reproductive health services for girls.
  • Increase girls economic independence.
  • Project Background


    Culturally in Malawi, the socialization process victimizes girls because they are considered to be the weaker sex. Spending valuable resources such as money to pay for their education is considered a waste because they are expected to get married and be supported by their husbands. Their profile in society has remained low and their voices have not been heard. Despite having rights as a child, obstacles exist that impinge on the fulfillment of those basic rights.

    As a result, girls' educational attainment has remained low, their health, especially reproductive health, has been poor, they lack training in most vocational skills and generally, their participation in development activities has been very minimal. In the past, some mechanisms were put in place to try and improve the participation of girls, such as through free secondary school education. However, such mechanisms have been short lived and did not solve the problem. This points to the need for the currently proposed project to look into a more workable system of assisting girls to remain in school, healthy, skilled and economically empowered there by improving their position in society and increasing their participation in development activities.

    Activities and Outputs

  • The need for improving girls participation will be addressed to ensure that there will be an increased number of community members who will appreciate the importance of allowing girls to take part in development activities. The community will also provide morale and material support to the girls which will enhance the participation in development activities.
  • As a result, an increased number of girls will take up leadership roles at school, organisational or district level which will facilitate their participation in development activities either at village, community, district or national level. 

  • In addressing the need to improve the educational attainment of girls, the expected outcomes are that the community will appreciate the importance of educating girls.
  • As a result, all girls will have access to and be retained in primary schools or their equivalent. An increased number of girls will access secondary school education. The quality of education will be improved so that girls will be able to read and write by their fourth year of primary education. The long term expected outcome is that all females in the community will be literate by at least completing their primary education or its equivalent. 

  • To improve the health including reproductive health, of adolescent girls. All mothers will take up their role as primary sex counsellors for their daughters. The role of traditional sex counsellors in society will be revised through an update of the counsellors' knowledge of sexuality.
  • As a result,most girls will know their health rights, and have an increased knowledge and practice of healthy behaviours. More hospitals and clinics will provide youth friendly services and the services will be accessed by a majority of the youth. The community will also have its knowledge updated and will practice measures aimed at the prevention of most communicable diseases. The long term expected outcomes are that the community members will attain good health and will promote and maintain it. There will also be a decline in the population growth rate at village, community, and district and nation level by 10 percent within five years. 

  • To attain vocational skills training. More girls will have access to skills training sessions and the training will provide for individual choices.
  • The long-term objective is that there will be an increased number of girls acquiring knowledge and skills in different vocational skills, especially those that are culturally regarded to be manly.  

  • Need to improve the socio-economic status of girls. will ensure that more girls will secure paid employment.
  • Fewer girls will depend on commercial sex work as a means of attaining economic independence. Instead, more girls will engage in legitimate business in order to improve their economic status. The long-term expectation will be that there will be gender equality maintained within the community and a majority of the girls will attain economic independence.

    The Situation of Adolescent Girls in Malawi (DHS data analysed by Population Council)


    The Situation of Adolescent Girls in Malawi (DHS data analysed by Population Council)




    Project Partners

    Implementing Partner: UNICEF

    Associated Implementing Partner: UNFPA


    Establishment and support for youth clubs/NGOs

    Establishment and support for role modeling programmes.

    Establishment and maintenance of language (debate/quiz) and sporting trophies (for formal and informal schools)

    Empowering parents as primary sex counsellors.

    Life skills training for girls.

    Training of local artisans.

    Establishment of youth festivals.