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Study Overview

Sahel Womenâ??s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD): Empowering Adolescent Girls through Safe Spaces and Accompanying Measures in Burkina Faso
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Burkina Faso

The Sahel Women's Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) is a regional project aiming to reduce gender inequalities and accelerate the demographic transition by addressing both supply and demand constraints to family planning and reproductive and sexual health. In Burkina Faso, the government has put in place a triple intervention to tackle multiple aspects of women's empowerment. Girls and young women aged 12-24 years old living in rural areas attend life-skills traning session in Safe Spaces, participate in job training courses and tjen receive subsidized loans to start income generating activities. As part of a cross-country study, the present impact evaluation will test the safe space model at scale in the Sahelian context. In particular, the study will evaluate the impact of these interventions on women;s family preferences and life choices, the knowledge and use of family planning methods,  and women's economic independence.   

Registration Citation:
Economic Policy
Health, Nutrition, and Population
Additional Keywords:
Gender equality, adolescent girls, early marriage, early childbearing, empowerment, sexual and reproductive health
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Harounan Kazianga
Oklahoma State University
Name of Second PI:
Omer Combary
Universié Ouaga-II, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Study Sponsor

World Bank, UNFPA
Study Sponsor Location:
Burkina Faso

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Institut National de la Statistique et de la Demographie
Type of Organization:
Government agency (eg., statistics office, Ministry of Health)
Burkina Faso

Intervention Overview


In Burkina Faso, the SWEDD interventions being evaluated consist of two sub-projects:  mentor-led girls’ clubs commonly as known as “safe spaces”, and female entrepeurship that provides training in business and jobs skills coupled with subsidized loans to fund income generating activities. The safe spaces sub-project called locally "Sukkabé-Rewlé" (fighting early marriages) targets  out of school girls aged 12 to 24. These youngt women  attend safe spaces, where trained mentors teach life skills (e.g., self-confidence, interpersonal skills, managing emotions, self-motivation, conflict management) and provide information on sexual and reproductive health.  The second sub-project "Female Entrepeurship" targets young women aged 12 to 24 and builds on the safe spaces. In eligible villagges, the sub-project provides young women  with business and job skills (in addition to the life skills training). A subset the women receiving the business end job training also receive subsidized loans.

Theory of Change:

The guiding assumption of the SWEDD project is that increasing adolescent girls and women social and economic empowerment is essential to: (i) reduce fertility rates, (ii) improve health; (iii) and increase human capital to lower dependency ratios and create a productive adult workforce. Participation in safe spaces is expected to delay marriage and childbearing by: (i) increasing girls’ knowledge and use of sexual and reproductive health services; (ii) changing preferences for early marriage and childbearing as well as aspirations; (iii) increasing girls’ self-confidence and decision-making power. The livelihoods support add-on is expected to increase girls’ engagement in livelihood activities, savings, and earnings and delay marriage and childbearing by increasing the opportunity costs and improving girls’ decision-making power.

The business skills training intervention is expected to increase young women’s engagement in economic activities, savings, and earnings and delay marriage and childbearing by increasing the opportunity costs and improving girls’ decision-making power. Finally, the anticipated project impacts are mutually reinforcing in that marriage/childbearing delays lead to productivity gains by allowing young women to engage in productive activities with higher earnings, thus increasing the opportunity cost of having children which will ultimately delay childbearing and lower the demand for children.




Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, Family and Humanitarian Action; and Ministry of Health
Type of Organization:
Public Sector, e.g. Government Agency or Ministry

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
World Bank
Type of Organization:
Foreign or Multilateral Aid Agency

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
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Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
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Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

The intervention will benefit 3,750 girls in 200 villages (150 treated and 50 controls), 2 regions and 11 provinces. The intervention sites were identified by the SWEDD-Burkina team.  The following interventions are evaluated: 

  1. Safe spaces (Sukaabe Rewle)
  2. Training in entrepreneurship, leadership, and technical skills (Female Entrepreneurship)
  3. Subsidized loans and coaching (Female Entrepreneurship)

In order to maximize the statistical power of the analysis of interventions carried out at the village level, the three interventions will be assigned randomly. That is, each village will participate in the random selection of each intervention regardless of the intervention previously received. Speficially, we orgarnize a first randomization at the village levele to determine the “treated” villages and the “control” villages. All the villages treated will receive the intervention "safe spaces and training". Then the group of treated villages  participate in a second  lottery to determine who will receive the grants and coaching. This randomization at the village level will give us the following four groups:

1. T0: Control group

2. T1: Safe spaces

3. T2: Safe spaces + training in entrepreneurship

4. T3: Safe spaces + training in entrepreneurship + financial support

Outcomes (Endpoints):

We consider three categories of outcomes:  i- Sexual and reproductive health: knowledge on SRH (e.g., modern contraceptives, birth spacing, breastfeeding), use of modern contraception, access to and use of health services, fertility preferences, early marriage and childbearing.  ii- Economic: employment, participation in (non-farm) income generating activities, income, savings. iii- Empowerment and life skills: decision-making power within the household, mobility, self-esteem, attitudes towards and experience of gender-based violence, aspirations about education, employment, and marriage.

Unit of Analysis:

We test three primary hypotheses and two secondary hypotheses, and explore village level heterogeneity:

Primary hypotheses: i-Participation in safe spaces will improve adolescent girls's knowledge and use of family planning, socio-emotional skills, and other empowerment indicators such as aspirations and decision-making power. ii-The positive impact on these outcomes will be greater for villages which receive the the business and job skills training . -iii Participant receiving additional IGA support will be more likely to be employed and earn higher incomes.  

Secondary hypotheses: -i Younger girls will benefit more than older girls. -ii Longer-term impacts will include a reduction in early marriage and childbearing rates.

Village level heterogeneity: The program impact will be larger in villages where at baseline (from village level surveys): --i ideal age at marriage; --ii distance to the nearest facility offering/selling birth control products, -iii Absence of bride "promises" in the village. The impact of the program on IGA will be larger in villages with greater access to markets and roads. 

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Number of Clusters in Sample:
200 villages
Number of Individuals in Sample:
8327 adolescent girls and young women aged 12 to 24 years; and 7241 households
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
6362 treated adolescent girls and young women; and 1965 adolescent girls and young women in the control group.

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:

Outcomes Data

The survey instrument consists with three parts: (i) a household questionnaire administered to the household head or the most knowledgeable household member, and adolescent questionnaire administered to all female household members aged 12 to 24, and a village questionnaire administered to 3 to 5 key village level respondents (together). There will be three rounds of the survey (a baseline, a midline and an endline) administered to the same households and individuals.
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Treatment Assignment Data

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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Preliminary Report:
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Data Availability

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Other Materials

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Study Stopped