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Zambia: Increasing Economic and Social Empowerment for Girls and Women
Mathematica is evaluating the EMPOWER: Increasing Economic and Social Empowerment for Adolescent Girls and Vulnerable Women project, implemented by Winrock International and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. The project aims to reduce the prevalence of child labor, improve the ability of adolescent girls and women to gain acceptable employment, and increase public awareness of child labor and gender equality in Eastern Province, Zambia.
According to the Zambian government, almost 600,000 children were engaged in child labor across the country in 2014, of which more than half were younger than 15 years old. This is despite Zambia’s 2013 Prohibition of Employment of Young Persons and Children Act that prohibits children younger than 15 from working and children ages 15 to 17 from working in hazardous conditions.
The problems associated with child labor in Zambia are worse for girls. In addition to facing risks from working in agriculture—such as exposure to fertilizer chemicals, injuries from using heavy machinery, and overheating from working in the hot sun—adolescent girls are often expected to take on domestic chores. The combination of agricultural work and domestic labor could contribute to girls’ relatively low levels of enrollment in and completion of upper grade levels in school, which restricts their ability to gain the skills required for safe and higher-earning employment in the long run.
As part of the EMPOWER project, Winrock plans to conduct a Rural Entrepreneurial and Leadership (REAL) course that covers life skills, technical skills, vocational skills, and mentoring support. The REAL course will separately serve girls ages 15 to 17 engaged or at risk of engaging in child labor as well as and men and vulnerable women from households with girls enrolled in REAL.
Mathematica concluded an evaluability assessment of the EMPOWER project to review project implementation, assess project logic, and inform and develop an evaluation design for the project. Mathematica is currently finalizing its evaluation design of the EMPOWER project and anticipates collecting data at baseline and 12 to 18 months after the REAL course finishes to assess participants’ vocational and technical skills, engagement in business-oriented networks, and employment outcomes for girls and women. Mathematica will also conduct qualitative interviews with project beneficiaries, course trainers, and implementation staff to complement its quantitative findings.