Identifying Economic Status Indicators for Adolescent Girls in DREAMS Programs

  • Date Posted: August 22, 2017
  • Authors: Whitney Moret
  • Organizations/Projects: FHI 360
  • Document Types: Tool, Evaluation, Assessment
  • 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 (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe), 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 and their 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 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 et al. 2006). 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. This creates difficulties for programs offering economic empowerment interventions targeted to young women, since household measures are of limited utility for monitoring and evaluation.

As a first step to developing a tool to assess individual-level economic vulnerability for adolescent girls for use in DREAMS contexts, FHI 360’s Accelerating Strategies for Practical Innovation and Research for Economic Strengthening (ASPIRES) project conducted a literature review to identify evidence-based indicators of economic vulnerability for adolescent girls. This report presents the results of that review.