series event

Girls Can: Empowerment through Higher Education in Mali

Girls Can

For the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, the Gender Violence Health Centre (GVHC) hosts an annual seminar series at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). This year’s series will highlight the research underway by the GVHC. 


The series will begin on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November) and will run until Human Rights Day (10 December).


2018 marks the 27th year of the campaign.


This paper brings new evidence on the importance of school interventions that target the wider environment of adolescent girls (e.g. school teachers and parents) as the enabling mechanism to their empowerment. We show how supporting schooling promotes girls’ empowerment through the impact of the ‘Girls Can’ project in Southern Mali.
Using original data collected in the project site, we find that in the aftermath of its completion, the project had a significant impact on girls’ empowerment, and that the intervention was economically affordable. Moreover, the evaluation identifies the key domains of impact: girls’ awareness of the risks of early pregnancy, their ability to stay on track in school, their confidence in reporting acts of violence perpetrated on their peers, and girls’ positive perception of being part of a supportive environment to their schooling.


Marcella Vigneri is a development economist and applies quantitative research methods to a range of policy-relevant topics including market and non-market constraints to smallholders’ productivity, the political economy of export cash crops, and the socio-economic dimensions of women’s empowerment.

Since 2007 Marcella has been a research collaborator with IFPRI’s Ghana Strategy Support Program, after consulting for the FAO and the World Bank on a long-term project focussing on children’s malnutrition and food security. Previously she worked as a research fellow with the Overseas Development Institute in London. Marcella was the quantitative lead on two large evaluation studies for Oxfam GB on “Women’s Collective Action” in sub-Saharan Africa and for the International Cocoa Initiative on a multi-country labour market study on child labour in cocoa.

From 2014 to 2016 Marcella was Global Impact Evaluation Adviser for Oxfam GB, where she played a leadership role in quality assuring the portfolio of Oxfam’s effectiveness reviews. Marcella holds a DPhil in Economics from Oxford University where she did original work on Ghana cocoa farmers based at the Centre for the Study of African Economies.


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