Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Global Program

NEEP on the ground: Jasmine and the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Programme

Jasmine Kabungo, self portrait.

Jasmine Kabungo, self portrait. March 2016.

Jasmine, age 19, is a participant in the Population Council’s Adolescent Girls Empowerment Programme (AGEP) in Zambia.

As part of the program, Jasmine attends safe-space meetings every Saturday with a group of about 15 to 20 other young ladies. These meetings give Jasmine and others the opportunity to meet, hang out, and learn from each other. They also get to share their opinions and bounce ideas off each other in a secure and nurturing environment.

AGEP includes a nutrition curriculum developed jointly by the Population Council and PATH. The Nutrition Embedding Evaluation Program (NEEP), funded by the UK Department for International Development and managed by PATH, funds an evaluation of this nutritional curriculum. The curriculum includes six sessions on nutrition:

  1. Nutrition Needs for Adolescent Girls
  2. The Role of Food in the Body
  3. Anemia in Adolescent Girls
  4. Nutrition for Pregnant Adolescents
  5. Infant Feeding from Birth Through Six Months
  6. Young Child Feeding and Growth Monitoring

Jasmine said she learned things about reproductive health and nutrition that she never knew before. For example, through AGEP, Jasmine learned the difference between good foods—those that provide energy—and bad foods—those that contain too much fat or are otherwise lacking in nutrients.

Jasmine’s favorite thing about AGEP is that she and the other girls get to meet to share their knowledge and learn from each other. They often face similar problems, and during safe-space meetings, the girls can work out possible solutions. Of course, the social aspects are fun, too. Safe-space meetings are an opportunity for Jasmine and the other girls to build interpersonal skills in addition to learning important health information. Jasmine said that AGEP has helped her build self-esteem.

Recently, Jasmine had a friend who didn’t come to safe-space meetings, but Jasmine shared all of the information that she learned through AGEP with her. Jasmine encouraged her friend to come to the meetings to get even more information. Soon, Jasmine’s friend joined AGEP and has enjoyed the same benefits from it as Jasmine.

Jasmine’s advice for other young ladies like her is to learn how to communicate with each other and share whatever knowledge they have so that everyone can learn and grow. AGEP helps girls develop the self-confidence to speak out on important issues that affect girls in every community in Zambia.

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