Girls First - Bihar, India: First-of-its-kind research reveals significant impact on well-being
In rural Bihar, girls face high rates of gender-based violence and are often forced to drop out of school and marry by age 14. Now, more than 3,000 at-risk adolescent girls are completing Girls First, a peer support-group program, empowering them to improve their mental and physical health, prevent early marriage and pregnancy, and advocate for their education and health rights.
Girls First combines an Emotional Resilience curriculum on topics such as character strengths, coping skills, assertive communication and problem-solving, and an Adolescent Health curriculum on nutrition, reproductive health, and gender-based violence reduction. The program is facilitated by local community women, trained and certified by CorStone.
Our research team has just completed preliminary data analysis from the first 5 months of the program, and results already show many significant impacts!
Girls First significantly improved emotional and physical well-being relative to the control group:
• Emotional resilience increased 23%. Girls in the Emotional Resilience groups significantly improved their coping skills, self-confidence, courage, persistence, and ability to handle negative emotions relative to the control group. Girls' resilience in the control group increased just 8%.
• Health knowledge increased 71%. Girls in the Adolescent Health groups significantly improved their physical health knowledge of HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, menstruation, anemia, malaria, clean water, substance use, and health consequences of early marriage, relative to controls.Health knowledge among girls in the control group increased only 2%.
Additionally, Girls First significantly protected against erosion of emotional and physical well-being relative to the control group. Girls First clearly safeguarded participants in some of their most vulnerable areas:
• Self-efficacy increased 3% for the Emotional Resilience groups, while the control group decreased 4%. Self-efficacy is the belief in one's ability to control one's own life trajectory and thrive, and is a predictor of academic and career success, and positive health behaviors.
• Physical well-being increased 3% for the Adolescent Health groups, while the control group decreased 23%. Physical well-being includes girls' perceived feelings of physical vitality, functioning, energy, pain, and overall health.
This rigorous impact assessment is one of the first of its kind in any developing country, and includes standardized measures of well-being within a multi-arm randomized controlled trial. Our research team includes leading developmental psychology and global health researchers from University of Pennsylvania and University of California, San Francisco.
Girls First - Bihar has been made possible through the generous support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Additional findings will be available in June 2014. For more information, please contact Kate at [email protected].