Adolescent Empowerment Programme

  • P Project/Program

? Activity Status: Unknown

Key Information

The Adolescent Empowerment Programme (AEP) takes a life cycle approach and works with adolescents from the ages of 11 to 18 years in schools, Anganwadi centers, and in the community to ensure the institutionalization of the program and sustained, consistent reach to participants. The seven main components of the program are as follows: 1.) Younger Adolescents (11-14 years) are reached through a two-year school based program that shapes gender attitudes and beliefs through 28 fortnightly, interactive classroom sessions, plus 12 assemblies that empower girls and boys to tackle harmful social and gender norms that contribute to girls being out of school. It encourages them to be confident, promotes their agency, creates awareness of their rights, builds self worth, develops negotiation skills and encourages inter-gender and inter-generational dialogues. The concepts of sexuality and reproductive health are also seeded in these sessions. In an evaluation by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) of our school program in Haryana covering 300 schools and 14,000 children over two years, Breakthrough's intervention was found to bring significant change in the gender attitudes and behaviors of both boys and girls. What was interesting was that the behavior change amongst boys was even greater than that of girls, giving us hope that we can bring large-scale change in gender norms in the medium term.; 2.) Older adolescent girls (peer educators, aged 15-18 years) are worked with at the Anganwadi centre to build agency, develop life skills and confidence, as well as to ensure awareness of their sexual and reproductive health rights.; 3.) Youth from the community (aged 19+) are identified and trained as Peer Leaders so they can mobilize their communities, work with adolescent groups and eventually ensure a more gender equitable ecosystem in the community. In states like Uttar Pradesh (UP), they also are part of the government’s Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) program and help ensure critical programs like the Village health nutrition days (VHNDs) and Adolescent health days (AHDs) are conducted effectively, have adequate participation and ensure adolescents can access health and education services.; 4.) Breakthrough’s intervention ensures training on gender, rights and sexuality for frontline health workers. Since these health workers are an integral part of the community, a special focus is given to ensure there is no provider bias, so their views on caste, sexuality, and gender do not hamper the provision of vital services, products and counseling to adolescents. The program encourages greater dialogue between health workers and adolescents, so girls and boys know whom to turn to for their health needs and are not hesitant in discussing issues like contraception and menstrual health.; 5.) Along with this, Breakthrough drives large-scale community impact and shifts norms by engaging parents, teachers and duty bearers like frontline health workers and PRI members. This is done to strengthen their response to adolescent needs and to create safe spaces in the community through intensive and on-going community mobilization initiatives and media outreach. Breakthrough’s approach to community mobilization is unique by using popular culture and the arts to start discussions on critical issues impacting women and girls. We use mediums like video vans, theatre, music and dance to engage communities in discussions and debates that help them recognize and reduce their biases in a non threatening manner.; 6.) Media and technology are embedded in all Breakthrough programs, helping us create larger conversations on gender based discrimination through thought provoking mass media films, hyper local campaigns, digital media, and IVRS outreach. Our award winning campaigns have been instrumental in creating wide spread public dialogue on issues like domestic violence and sexual harassment. BellBajao – our campaign on domestic violence was adopted by more than 7 countries and was advocated for by the UN Sectretary General Ban ki Moon. Central to all this was the message that ‘change starts with you’, pushing accountability of people in seeding change around them.; 7.) Breakthrough engages with the government at the district, state and national levels to ensure adolescents’ access to rights, entitlements and sustainability of programs. We are part of the national and district level task force (Haryana) for Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao(BBBP). Several of the highly visible BBBP mass media campaigns use communication developed by Breakthrough. We are also part of the UP government’s Technical support unit for RKSK. For the Bihar government, we have created a state action plan on early marriage, as well as developed a 360-degree communication package for them. In addition, we have trained 13 of their line departments on early marriage and dowry.

Lead Implementing Organization(s)


South Asia


Government Affiliation



2012 -


Aman Network (DV), Change Alliance, Global Alliance for SBCC, SAVA Children, Beti Bachao Beti Padao, Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), Girls Count, Community of Evaluators, Puntos, Thompson Reuters Foundation, UN Agencies, Twitter, Facebook, Instragram, Skoll Foundation, Youth Ki Awaaz, STC, Srijan Foundation, Azad Foundation, Ashoka University, 10to19 Dasra Adolescents Collaborative

Ministry Affiliation



EdelGive Foundation, British Asian Trust, IKEA Foundation, Becton Dickinson, Human Dignity Foundation, Oak Foundation, Oracle

COVID-19 Response


Geographic Scope


Areas of Work Back to Top

Education areas


  • Primary completion
  • Secondary completion

Other skills

  • Life skills/sexuality education
  • Rights/empowerment education
  • Social and emotional learning


  • School quality
  • School-related gender-based violence

Cross-cutting areas

  • COVID-19 Response
  • Early/child marriage
  • Food/water security
  • Gender equality
  • Masculinities/boys
  • Other aspects of sexual and reproductive health
  • Social and gender norms and beliefs
  • Violence (at home, in relationships)
  • WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene)

Program participants

Target Audience(s)

Boys (both in school and out of school), Girls (both in school and out of school), Youth


11 - 25

School Enrolment Status

Some in school

School Level

  • Upper primary
  • Lower secondary
  • Upper secondary

Other populations reached

  • Brothers
  • Fathers
  • Mothers
  • Other community members - female
  • Other community members - male
  • Other family members
  • Parent-teacher associations/school management committees
  • School administrators
  • Sisters
  • Teachers - female
  • Teachers - male

Participants include

  • Adolescent mothers (pregnant or parenting)
  • Internal migrants (from other areas of the same country)

Program Approaches Back to Top

Access to school

  • Alternative learning centers/mobile schools/home schools

Community engagement/advocacy/sensitization

  • Community-based monitoring (e.g. school report cards)
  • Mothers' clubs
  • School management committees
  • Technical assistance/capacity building to civil society organizations


  • Gender-sensitive curricula

Health and childcare services

  • Adolescent-friendly health services
  • Referrals to health services

Life skills education

  • Gender, rights and power
  • Negotiation skills
  • Sexual and reproductive health (including puberty education)
  • Social and emotional learning (SEL) skills building

Menstrual hygiene management

  • Educating girls about menstruation
  • Raising awareness about menstruation (beyond just girls)


  • Other activities to address/end violence (not captured above)
  • Other activities to end child marriage (not captured above)

Policy/legal environment

  • Advocating changes to existing laws/policies
  • Raising awareness about existing laws/policies

School-related gender-based violence

  • Safe channels/mechanisms for reporting violence
  • Training of school personnel (including teachers)
  • Violence prevention curriculum/activities for students

Social/gender norms change

  • Engaging parents/caregivers of students or school-age children/adolescents
  • Group activities with students or school-age children/adolescents
  • Media campaigns
  • Other community mobilization activities
  • Work with community leaders
  • Work with religious leaders


  • In-service teacher training – gender-responsive pedagogy

Women's empowerment programs

  • Advocacy/action
  • Empowerment training

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Program Goals Back to Top

Education goals

  • Improved social and emotional learning/skills and mindsets
  • Increased primary school completion
  • Increased progression to secondary school
  • Increased re-enrolment in school among out-of-school children
  • Increased secondary school completion
  • Increased years of schooling
  • Reduced absenteeism

Cross-cutting goals

  • Improved understanding of sexual harassment, coercion, and consent
  • Increased agency and empowerment
  • Increased knowledge of rights
  • More equal power in relationships
  • More equitable gender attitudes and norms
  • Reduced STI/HIV/AIDS
  • Reduced child marriage
  • Reduced school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV)

Additional Information Back to Top

Primary Contact

Jocelyn Jose
Head- Institutional Partnerships