What is the Adolescent Girls Program?
The Adolescent Girls Program (AGP) is a flexible six-month program for unmarried, adolescent girls aged approximately 12-18. AGP sessions are held at the CRHP campus and additionally meetings are run by Village Health Works in their respective villages. Lessons engage the girls and enhance their learning experience with educational songs and interactive lessons. Often, girls perform dramas or skits to portray what they have learned.
A hands-on curriculum tailored to the girls’ interests includes topics of mental and physical health, the environment, and social issues. Health topics include, but are not limited to, physical and mental changes during adolescence, basic first aid, nutrition, depression and anxiety, infant and child health, sexual health, and communicable and non-communicable diseases. Environmental topics include sanitation, water conservation, pollution, and learning how to plant and care for kitchen gardens. Social topics typically include gender equality, the value of education, self-esteem, women’s rights, dowry, and early marriage. In addition, girls have the opportunity to learn self-defense and income-generating skills, such as candle making, sewing and tailoring, maintaining plant nurseries, jewelry making, and mehandi (henna) drawing throughout their sessions.
What population does Adolescent Girls Program serve?
Adolescent girls are future mothers and household managers. Learning about sexual health, pregnancy, infant and child health, and basic preventive health measures helps prepare girls to raise health families and contribute to decreased maternal and infant mortality within communities.
In village schools and everyday village life, it is unlikely that adolescent girls will learn about sexual health, the importance of gender equality, or the harmful effects of dowry and early marriage. Girls are often already in positions to affect and provide family health care, especially for younger siblings. Even if their knowledge and desires to postpone marriage, continue education, and postpone pregnancy cannot be fulfilled due to their family dynamics, it is our goal that adolescent girls in this program become more likely to keep their children, especially female children, in school for longer, marry them at a later age, and not accept or give dowry for any of their children’s marriages.
What are the goals of the Adolescent Girls Program?
- Girls have more confidence in taking responsibility in their own lives.
- Girls have skills for economic development and self-sufficiency.
- Girls finish their secondary education.
- Girls postpone marriage and childbirth till they have reached the age of 18.
- Girls are able to identify and feel confident using resources available to them with regard to physical and mental health and environmental and social challenges they face.
- Girls do not give nor receive dowry for their childrens’ marriages.