Suci - Lombok

Power to You(th)

Mara gave birth to a boy in Malawi; she just turned 16. Siti from Indonesia got married at 15. Insaf and her friends underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) in South Sudan. A few examples of what thousands of adolescent girls and young women (aged 10-35 years) encounter around the world. Unequal power relations and prevailing social norms lie beneath the human rights violations these girls have to suffer.

The rights of girls and women are more important than ever

Only when women are given equal opportunities can poverty be effectively combated. Poverty passes from generation to generation when women are not given opportunities and cannot provide them to their daughters. Girls that don’t marry early have a higher chance of finishing school. That gives them a better chance of entering the labor market. This allows them to be financially independent, be and stay healthy and build a better life for themselves and their families. That’s why investing in the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of girls and young women is more important than ever.

The Power to You(th) programme believes that change starts in the community. To make change possible the capacity of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) needs to be strengthened as they play a vital role. They need to be able to advocate more effectively for inclusive decision-making at local, national and international level. It’s also important that the voices of adolescent girls and young women are heard, that they learn how to claim their rights, increase their agency and know how to address gender inequalities. Especially those who live in underserved communities. Last, but not least, we will actively engage men and boys, as they are part of the solution.

Power to You(th)’s approach

The Power to You(th) consortium -which Rutgers is part of- focuses on stopping harmful practices such as female circumcision and child marriage. We will work in seven countries. 
Our dream? Girls and young women from underserved communities make informed choices, enjoy their sexuality, and are free from harmful practices in gender-equitable societies. To achieve this, we will focus on following key elements: 

Strengthening young people’s voices
Gaining knowledge skills, confidence and agency will enhance young people’s ability to collectively examine and question social norms, policies and systems. This will gradually strengthen their voice, role and position in society, enabling them to address harmful practices, sexual and gender based violence and unintended pregnancies, and claim the civic space to do so. 

Claim, protect and expand civic space
We aim for Civil Society Organizations to claim, protect and expand civic space. They will be supported in practicing diplomacy, political participation, brokering, activation and engaging media to increase lobby and advocacy capacity. Youth will meaningfully be included – especially young women and adolescent girls from underserved communities. 

Support and promote youth rights and progressive equal social norms
To stop harmful practices, unintended pregnancies and sexual and gender based violence, changing social norms is needed. This takes time and persistence. The aim is for influencers and activists to support and promote youth rights and progressive equal social norms. 
Media play an important role in this too. When these harmful social norms are broken down, young people are liberated to increase their voice and agency in the public arena. 


Improving policies and policy implementation at local, regional, national and global levels 
The biggest challenge in most of the countries is the implementation of existing laws and legislation concerning harmful practices and sexual and gender based violence. To change the laws and policies we need to inform public servants and policy makers about sexual reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls and young women. Once they recognize young people’s agency and rights, including the right to participate in decision-making, the door is open for young people to be part of policy processes. 

Rutgers’ Role

Rutgers uses a robust gender-transformative approach in all its SRHR work. It has expertise in youth-led research on SRHR and extensive experience in CSO capacity strengthening on Lobby & Advocacy, comprehensive sexual education, and SGBV. Rutgers and its partners manoeuvre around dialogue and dissent from an evidence-based perspective.

LocationEthiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, and Uganda.
ObjectiveGirls and young women from underserved communities make informed choices, enjoy their sexuality, and are free from harmful practices in gender-equitable societies
Target groupAdolescent girls and young women (10-35 years)
Duration5 year
Consortium partners
(joint initiative, in collaboration with partners in the countries mentioned above)
Amref Flying Doctors (lead), Sonke Gender Justice, Rutgers