Adolescent Girls Economic Vulnerability Tool Indicator Guide

  • Date Posted: August 22, 2017
  • Organizations/Projects: FHI 360
  • Document Types: Tool
  • Donor Type: Non-US Government Agency

The alarming gender and age disparity in the rate of new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa has driven the development of new initiatives to address the needs of young women. One of these initiatives is DREAMS, a $385 million partnership to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. DREAMS targets girls and young women aged 10-24 in addition to male sex partners. Recognizing that HIV risk is multidimensional, DREAMS supports biomedical interventions as well as addressing structural drivers of HIV risk for girls, including poverty, gender inequality, sexual violence, and a lack of education (DREAMS, 2017).

Evidence suggests that economic vulnerability leads young women to stay in risky relationships, reduces their ability to negotiate condom-use, and increases their likelihood of exchanging sex for goods or favors (Ricardo, Barker, Pulerwitz, & Rocha, 2006, p. 67). However, evidence on the individual-level, economic drivers of HIV risk for adolescent girls is limited. Most studies focus on the link between household economic status and HIV outcomes for young women rather than looking at individual characteristics. For programs offering economic empowerment interventions targeted to young women, household measures are of limited utility for monitoring and evaluation.

The purpose of this tool is to monitor and evaluate programming seeking to reduce economic factors contributing to HIV risk for adolescent girls at the individual girl level. The target population for this tool is girls between the ages of 10 and 19. This age group, though diverse, is an important target group for interventions seeking to prevent transactional sex. Transactional sex is most common among youth aged 15-19 throughout Africa (Chatterji, Murray, London, & Anglewicz, 2004), but early adolescence is an important time for developing related habits and behaviors, and an important time for intervention and risk assessment (McCarthy, Brady, & Hallman, 2016).