Empowering Women: Teaching Leadership Skills to Youth in Uganda

Research Project Paper 10

Laura Chioda, Paul Gertler, and Nicole Perales

Empowering adolescent girls through education has become a priority among numerous stakeholder. However, recent evidence suggests that education alone may not be suffcient if women remain in a low-empowerment equilibrium and face internal constraints as they relate to aspirations, self-efficacy, leadership, and other life (soft) skills. We study the long-term impacts of a school-based upper-secondary intervention, the Educate! Experience, designed to enhance adolescents’ leadership and social entrepreneurship skills in Uganda. The program was implemented as a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) in 48 schools. Four years post-intervention, we document lasting impacts on a wide array of leadership and soft skills. Overall, Educate! graduates developed skills that are traditionally associated with greater focus on long-term goals; they reported being more in control of aspects of their lives (self-efficacy and grit) and more empowered to implement actions towards their plans. Young women in the treatment group are also more likely to complete secondary education, delay family formation, enroll in tertiary education, and pursue STEM and Business majors relative to their counterparts in the control group. The program yielded socially desirable and gender relevant spillovers, including expansions in women’s agency. Both male and female Educate! graduates embraced more progressive views concerning women’s standing in the society and women’s ability to exercise their agency to engage in the labor market and refuse sex. The incidence of intimate partner violence (IPV) also improved among Educate! graduates, as did their attitudes toward IPV social acceptability.

Suggested citation: Chioda, L., Gertler, P. and Perales, N. 2023. Empowering Women: Teaching Leadership Skills to Youth in Uganda, CEDIL Research Project Paper 10. Centre of Excellence for Development Impact and Learning (CEDIL), London and Oxford. Available from: https://doi.org/10.51744/CRPP10

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