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The EMPOWER programme offers English proficiency, digital skills, social skills and social enterprise skills.  ©

British Council 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights dictates the collective right to education. However, girls and women in South Asian countries have comparatively less access to education and digital skills than men and boys. The issues result in a gender based digital divide, leading to future skills imbalances and less favourable life chances for women. 

Through partner organisations, the British Council has established networks of non-formal community-based girls clubs which are effective in reducing barriers, developing girls’ English and digital skills and increasing educational, social and economic opportunity. These clubs have so far reached over 14,000 adolescent girls across India, Nepal and Bangladesh. 

Building on the ‘English and IT for Adolescents’ (EITA) project which began in partnership with BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities) in Bangladesh in 2012, the project has since evolved to ‘English and Digital for Girls’ Education’ (EDGE), and is currently operating as EMPOWER project.

Programme objective 

The programme aims to improve the life prospects of 2,400 adolescent girls in socio-economically marginalised communities in Bangladesh. It will achieve this by 

• enhancing participants’ English proficiency, digital skills and awareness of social issues and building their self confidence 

• developing participants knowledge of social enterprise, giving them the skills to be able to develop their own local social business ideas in the future. 

• improving the leadership skills of a smaller group of peer leaders drawn from the same communities of adolescent girls. 

Main features of EMPOWER 

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The EMPOWER is a programme in partnership with HSBC and BRAC, this initiative will develop the life of rural girls.   ©

British Council

A peer-led model

Peer leaders are 13 to 19-year-old girls who are selected because of their levels of confidence, motivation and levels of English. Empower clubs are led by these peer leaders who are trained by British Council trainers to manage the clubs in their community. This ensures that the model: 

is sustainable and scalable: as there are potential peer leaders in every community, it is possible to replicate the model in new areas. As we work with local partners, sustainability is increased as the model becomes embedded in the local context. 

has positive impact: peer leaders provide positive role models for those in the clubs and in their communities. The development of positive female role models has an impact on the programme’s aim to develop the girls’ ability to make their own choices in life.

Safe spaces for girls to learn

Our clubs provide a safe space for girls to interact and learn because: 

• clubs are community-based and supported by community leaders and families 

• girls do not need to commute in environments where even travel to school can be long and potentially dangerous 

• the peer-led model means these safe spaces are places where girls can express themselves without judgement or harm which may not exist in other public environments

Learning is integrated and contextualised

The programme combines English, digital and social skills development. These skills will be developed through high-quality learning materials which have been specially designed by the British Council for this programme and the target audience. The whole programme is underpinned by a structured syllabus. 

 

Social enterprise skills developed

The learners will work in their club groups to develop simple social enterprise ideas. As the participants are minors and cannot start their own businesses, they will work through a number of practical and hypothetical tasks which develop the skills and awareness required to create a social enterprise in the future. See Appendix for outline of Social Enterprise course. This will draw on the knowledge of English and digital skills they have developed, and will cover aspects such as idea generation, marketing, finance and budgeting. Throughout the process, the clubs will be mentored by experienced local social entrepreneurs from the Active Citizens programme and the clubs will have a chance to showcase their ideas at the end of the project through a national social enterprise competition. 

Parents and community members are actively involved

Empower involves parents and local community members throughout the programme by sharing meetings and inviting observation of club sessions. As part of the programme, community leaders will be invited to hear the social enterprise ideas generated by the clubs. The hope is that this may lead to social enterprises being started within the communities involved. 

Safeguarding

The programme is underpinned and informed by our child safeguarding policies and practices: 

• policies and plans are agreed with partners and put in place to keep all children and adult at risk safe from harm 

• all project staff and trainers receive training in wider safeguarding and are required to provide police clearance to participate in the clubs 

• training for peer group leaders and girls includes safeguarding modules. 

• Safety online training is woven into the EMPOWER materials to ensure participants are informed and safe. 

 Learn The British Council Safeguarding and Child Protection information. 

Clear alignment with the global and regional development agenda

The outcomes of the programme are clearly aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Bangladesh’s plans for developing young people’s skills. 

Results are achieved in partnership

The programme works in partnership with local implementing partners, drawing on local expertise, strengthening existing networks and systems and sharing knowledge to ensure maximum impact for beneficiaries. For this programme, HSBC is cofunding and we will partner with BRAC, which has a network of over 10,000 Adolescent Development Clubs and will be our key delivery partner. 

Do not miss the success stories of our adoloscent girls who were the beneficiaries of previous year project 'EDGE'. 

See also

External links