There is increased consensus on the role of adolescent girls in reaching development
goals but few programs for girls have been rigorously evaluated. In Ethiopia,
Biruh Tesfa (Bright Future, in Amharic) mobilizes out-of-school girls into safe
space groups led by mentors. Girls receive training in literacy and life skills, and
they are given vouchers for medical services. A longitudinal study was conducted
to measure changes in girls’ learning outcomes and their use of health services.
After adjusting for background factors, we found that girls who had never attended
school in the project site had significantly higher literacy scores than did control
girls. At endline, girls in the project site were 1.6 times more likely to have used a
health service in the past six months than those in the control site. Girls-only safe
spaces programs can be effective at improving literacy and health-seeking behavior
among the most marginalized girls who otherwise lack educational opportunities
and access to services.