EMPOWER: Increasing Economic and Social Empowerment for Adolescent Girls and Vulnerable Women in Zambia

Project Duration
November 2016
October 2020
Funding and Year

The EMPOWER project will reduce child labor in Zambia’s eastern province by increasing adolescent girls and vulnerable women’s access to acceptable work and high-quality training opportunities. In addition, the project will increase public awareness on the importance of addressing child labor and strengthen efforts amongst government and the private sector towards gender equality through the promotion of acceptable work for adolescent girls and vulnerable women.

The Problem

More than half a million children ages 15 to 17 work in Zambia—nearly four out of five in rural areas and more than half of them adolescent girls. Elevated high school dropout rates, child marriages, and negative gender norms contribute to increased levels of child labor amongst adolescent girls in rural areas. Moreover, women in rural areas often lack the economic opportunities needed to help them meet basic needs without relying on the labor of their children.  Lack of awareness of child labor and its impact on children also contributes to the problem.

Our Strategy

To address these vulnerabilities and reduce child labor in targeted rural areas of Zambia, the EMPOWER project will provide direct services to 2,500 adolescent girls aged 15–17 who are engaged in, or at high risk of engaging in, child labor with education, vocational or technical training, apprenticeships, and other services to help them develop the skills they need to secure good jobs or start their own businesses.

The EMPOWER project will also help 1,500 vulnerable women with children engaged in or at risk of child labor, to improve their economic situation, including by establishing or expanding their own businesses.  As well as serve 1,000 male adults from the girls’ or women’s households. 

Traditional community leaders, adult males, boys, and teachers will also be included in EMPOWER’s awareness raising strategy to ensure communities build an increased understanding of gender equality, including the value of supporting women and adolescent girls to be economically empowered through acceptable work.

EMPOWER will also collaborate with key stakeholders such as the Zambian Government and the private sector towards promoting public awareness on child labor and gender equality in employment practices.