Essential Reading

The following section of Essential Reading features journal articles, reports, and publication series that will ground the reader in key concepts of the how, who, why, what and where of girls’ programming using a strong evidence base. We recommend you explore the following reading material for ideas for how to better design, implement, scale-up and evaluate your work in health, education, financial literacy, sexual and gender-based violence (GBV), emergency response, and more.

Journal Articles

Examines how the abuses of adolescent girls intensifies during emergencies and reviews commitments made by the Girls in Emergencies Collaborative to address these issues head-on.

Describes a systematic review that demonstrates that, although investments in schooling may have positive ripple effects for sexual and reproductive health in some circumstances, those effects may not be as large or consistent as expected.

Describes a literature review of evaluations of thirty community-based girl group (CBGG) programs positive effects on girl-level outcomes, including holding great promise for building girls’ assets.

Explores HIV-related determinants of risk from the perspective of foreign migrant adolescent girls and young women who participated in a Girls’ Club project.

Explores how adolescent girls and young women in Zambia understand financial agency and its effect on intimate relationships

Summarizes the key steps of the Community of Practice’s evidence-based approach to girls’ programs and it’s scalability at a national level.

Lays out analyses of levels and trends in female attainment and gender gaps over 10 years in 43 low- and middle-income countries, revealing that binary views of whether more boys or girls are in school provides an incomplete picture of progress achieving gender equality in education.

Discusses innovative interventions in four African countries which address the socioeconomic and cultural factors that shape girls’ vulnerability.

Examines the effects of adolescent childbearing on academic skills in low- and middle-income countries.

Details research in South Africa to understand children’s experience of safety at key stages of puberty. Findings demonstrate that the creation of safe spaces can be essential to transforming the overall well-being of girls.


Details three projects implemented in Ethiopia that used a protective asset-building approach to mitigate their risk of HIV, sexual and gender-based violence, and more. It shows that this approach has potential for replication.

Summarizes learnings from using a hybrid human-centered and evidence-based program design to engage adolescent girls, boys, and caregivers in a guided process of defining key issues and program areas.

Investing When it Counts: Reviewing the Evidence and Charting a Course of Research and Action for Very Young Adolescents

Spotlights the distinctive needs of very young adolescents and reviews the evidence around a broad range of program interventions using analyses of DHS statistics from 71 low- and moderate-income countries.

Describes lessons learned from providing technical assistance and strengthening capacity for Rapariga Biz that are priorities in Mozambique, elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond—especially as investment grows in programming for adolescent girls.

Provides programmatic evidence from six countries of investment in adolescent girls as a smart economic strategy to interrupt inter-generational poverty, promoting positive health, and achieving fertility goals.

Examines the scalability of design, impact, and cost of interventions that can be implemented to address a widespread problem, at scale in poor settings. 


Presents the latest evidence on issues of critical importance and recommend future directions for research, policies, and programs from the Girls Innovation Research and Learning (GIRL) Center.

Provides some of the first critical research specifically focused on adolescent girls in the developing world. It includes strategic action items for policymakers, donors, development professionals, and the private sector to effectively implement change for girls.

Offers a review of existing programs for adolescent girls and gives evidence-based recommendations for how the field can quickly and effectively improve girls’ lives. Topics range from girls’ mentoring to using data to determine where to work.

Details the experiences and outcomes of Population Council programs to reach vulnerable adolescent girls by: collecting, analyzing, and disseminating evidence on the diversity of adolescent lives and experiences.

Presents case studies of high-quality, innovative programs in sexual and reproductive health. Q/C/Q specifically documents educational and clinic-based programs that are making strides in addressing gender gaps.

Provides information about practical program ideas to address the economic roles and needs of low-income women. Examples are of projects that are working to help women to improve their economic status.