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DFID La Pépinière: DRC’s Programme for Adolescent Girls

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SDDirect was the lead contractor on DFID DRC’s Programme for Adolescent Girls and Young Women -  La Pépinière - leading a consortium with the Centre Régional de Recherche et de Documentation sur les Femmes, le Genre et la Construction de la Paix dans la région des Grands Lacs (CERED-GL) in Kinshasa and M&C Saatchi World Services.

The overall objective of La Pépinière was to promote the economic empowerment of adolescent girls and young women.  In the phase April 2015-October 2017, La Pépinière focused on learning and capacity building, to produce the evidence and engagement to design effective innovations to increase the economic empowerment of women and girls.  

From April 2015, 15 adolescent girls and young women aged between 16 and 24, from diverse backgrounds, were trained as qualitative researchers to form DRC’s first Girl-led Research Unit (GLRU). The GLRU embodies the girl-led approach of La Pépinière, underpinned by our Girl Participation Principles which include meaningful engagement and valuing girls' time and contributions. These principles aimed to ensure girls’ realities were understood and integrated into the design of research, pilot projects and capacity building activities. Read our fourth report on the work of the Gender Champions here. 

The GLRU played a central role in the first qualitative study about girls, led by girls in DRC, which will deepen understanding what it means to be a girl in Kinshasa and what adolescent girls’ and young women’s economic and wider empowerment really means in this context.  

SDDirect and partners had already undertaken an analysis of existing secondary data on adolescent girls and young women from existing surveys (comparing with adolescent boys/ young men where possible); and a review of wider literature.  In 2016, we disseminated our early findings ahead of a large scale quantitative survey (click here for a tutorial on the economic empowerment index that we designed) to test various hypotheses emerging related to adolescent girls’ and young women’s economic empowerment.  Further in-depth studies and evidence papers were developed and delivered in 2016/17. This report outlines the concepts, definitions, use and application of the Economic Empowerment Index for the Young and Adolescents in the Kinshasa context. Also available in French

To assess the potential for innovation, the programme did an extensive stakeholder mapping and capacity needs assessment, an evidence review of ‘what works’ to economically empower adolescent girls and young women, as well as scoping studies of existing interventions as well as of the media and communications landscape. All of these analyses shaped the design of ‘mini-pilots’ which will be launched in 2016 to test ‘what works’ to economically empower adolescent girls’ and young women and how the social norms that constraint this can be effectively tackled. 

Based on a capacity building strategy being developed, going forward,  La Pépinière delivered both tailor made and ‘responsive’ capacity building working with selected stakeholders working with, or interested in working with, adolescent girls and young women in DRC.  A physical as well as virtual hub for La Pépinière was established in the first half of 2016, to enable both dissemination and uptake of research as well as providing a shared working and learning space and a venue for capacity building activities. In the final stages of the programme, learning from the research and mini-pilots informed development of a revised theory of change, M&E framework and operating principles and criteria for the longer term innovation programme, which started in late 2017.

Photo credit: Cleo Blackman/DFID