Adolescent girls’ agency and their labour force participation: Experimental evidence from rural Bangladesh

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



In many South Asian countries, recent improvement in girls’ education has not been reflected in increased labour force participation. We hypothesise girls’ agency as a necessary condition to enhance their labour force participation. Data from an experimental setting is utilised to examine whether addressing gender-awareness skills is effective in encouraging girls’ paid-work participation in Bangladesh as compared with strengthening knowledge learned in school or livelihood skills obtained in vocational training. We found strong evidence that addressing gender awareness encourages girls’ paid-work participation while tutoring support or livelihood skills training does not. In the context of a strong patriarchal society, gender-awareness skill may be the key to enhancing girls’ labour force participation. The current study includes an important policy implication suggesting that enhancing education and providing technical skills training may not translate to enhanced productivity in the labour market in the absence of agency to utilise them.




BALIKA (Bangladeshi Association for Life Skills, Income, and Knowledge for Adolescents); GIRL Center