Empowering Girls Leads to Healthier, More Productive Futures

Girls’ empowerment significantly impacts a girl’s ability to succeed in the long term and has proven to be one of the most important ways to break poverty cycles.


Here’s what we know for sure: empowering girls leads to greater health for individual women and their families, increases global economic growth, stabilizes communities in conflict, as well as reduces child marriage rates and the number of women forced into sex trafficking. Yet, all around the world, adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24 are more likely than boys and young men to be out of school or the workforce—three times more likely in fact.

For many adolescent girls and young women, the journey to obtain an education and secure employment is often interrupted, insecure and unpredictable. Girls often drop out of school to have children, care for siblings and other family members or get married. These responsibilities can keep them out of school or the labor market for years or indefinitely.

Moreover, a lack of training opportunities and resources, including sexual and reproductive health services, leaves many girls with few options to improve their well-being.

Unfortunately, once a girl or young woman leaves school and becomes economically inactive, she tends to remain that way. Conversely, when girls attend school or receive vocational training, they’re better prepared to make individual and household decisions, care for themselves and their children, successfully handle difficult life challenges and fulfill their potential. Educated girls grow into women who have more control over their lives and an increased sense of their worth and capabilities. PCI understands that empowering girls at the right time greatly impacts their path in life.

School-To-Work Initiative

Pressure to earn money for their families may propel adolescent girls into the informal economy or low-wage fields. Even when young women do earn an income, it may require working long hours in vulnerable employment or in female-segmented sectors that offer few opportunities for advancement. These obstacles can be compounded by employer discrimination and harassment and poorly implemented workforce development policies.

Through the School-to-Work Initiative, we’re engaging adolescent girls, their families and communities, along with the private and public sectors, to keep girls in school, delay early marriages and/or pregnancy and help girls acquire the skills needed to successfully transition from school to the workforce.

The complexity of this issue requires multidisciplinary solutions that address the “whole girl” and her environment. PCI combines multiple strategies to address the environment around girls by supporting safe working conditions, generating employer demand, linking girls to government services and fostering supportive family and community structures.

How can you help?

Support PCI’s efforts to enhance health, end hunger, overcome hardship and advance women & girls worldwide.


Our Strategies

The goal of the School-to-Work Initiative is not just to transition girls from school into training opportunities and decent work, but to expand their options for healthy, productive futures. Guided by the principles of Positive Youth Development, our School-to-Work Initiative embraces the following approaches:

Girl-led Programming

We work to proactively and intentionally engage girls by building their confidence and ability to lead while, together, identifying the barriers to education and work and designing solutions.

Life-cycle Approach

We work across sectors to ensure adolescent girls and young women have access to critical resources such as quality reproductive health services and child care options for young mothers.

Lifelong Learning & Resilience

PCI supports the acquisition of transferable skills, such as critical thinking and communication, to help equip girls for life as employees, entrepreneurs, mothers, partners and leaders.

Supportive Family & Social Structures

We help create safe spaces and mentorship opportunities while working with families and communities to create positive networks and enabling environments where girls can be free from harm, unencumbered by gender stereotypes and pursue their dreams.

Inclusive Labor Markets

PCI partners with the private and public sectors to increase protections for women and girls in the workplace against sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse. We also help tailor workforce development programs and apprenticeships to meet the requirements of new and emerging sectors, such as green jobs, agricultural extension, health and technology, finance, and information and communications technology.

Strong Public Sector Policies

We help local and national policy and decision-makers work with educators, girls and communities to influence and implement policies that enhance girls’ empowerment and earning potential.

Cutting-Edge Research & Evidence

We support research and global learning—from mapping the problem and surfacing best-practice solutions, to applied operations and intervention research—to drive innovation and inform the design and refinement of our program strategies.

International Labour Organization, ‘Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020’.

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