Bangladeshi Association for Life skills, Income and Knowledge for Adolescents
Last registered on October 12, 2016


Trial Information
General Information
Bangladeshi Association for Life skills, Income and Knowledge for Adolescents
Initial registration date
October 12, 2016
Last updated
October 12, 2016 5:15 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
Population Council
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The BALIKA program evaluates the impact of three community-based skills building programs to address child marriage among adolescent girls in rural Bangladesh. The study uses a cluster randomized controlled trial design with four arms: ARM1 offered educational support, ARM2 offered interventions to promote gender rights awareness, ARM3 offered livelihoods training, and ARM4 served as the control. The three intervention arms differed in terms of the nature of skills provided over an 18-month long intervention period when all adolescent girls were offered 144 hours of skills training in village centers. The survey sample comprised 11,609 respondents at baseline among whom 9,982 (85.9%) respondents were successfully re-interviewed at the endline survey. In intent-to-treat as well as per protocol, discrete time survival analysis we showed that the risk of child marriage (<18 years) for adolescent girls declined significantly in all intervention arms relative to those living in control arm villages.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Amin, Sajeda. 2016. "Bangladeshi Association for Life skills, Income and Knowledge for Adolescents." AEA RCT Registry. October 12.
Former Citation
Amin, Sajeda. 2016. "Bangladeshi Association for Life skills, Income and Knowledge for Adolescents." AEA RCT Registry. October 12.
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Experimental Details
The BALIKA program began implementation in February 2014. The interventions took place in 72 out of 96 study unions while the remaining 24 unions served as controls. The interventions took place over an 18-month period. A “safe spaces” component is at the core of the BALIKA program. Girls’ group meetings were organized in these safe spaces under the guidance of a female mentor from the community and were critical to the building of social assets among vulnerable girls. The designated safe spaces offered different types of training. Basic life-skills training totaling 44 hours was given to all girls. One of three additional skill trainings (livelihood, education, gender rights) was offered to each girl, totaling 100 hours, according to the randomization of villages.

The program offered skills training to around 9,000 girls aged 12–18 across three districts (Khulna, Satkhira, and Narail) in Bangladesh. The interventions aimed to increase girls’ skills, self-confidence, self-awareness, and strategies for advocating for themselves to delay marriage. In the education intervention, in-school girls received educational tutoring in mathematics and English, and out-of-school girls received financial skills and communicative English learning sessions. In the gender-rights intervention, girls received information on sexual and reproductive health, gender rights, negotiation, critical thinking, decision-making skills, and gender-based violence. Participants were educated about gender rights and awareness, and sexual and reproductive health rights-related issues, to change values regarding gender roles by changing power dynamics and gender-based division of labor. In the livelihoods intervention, girls received training on computers, and learned about possible income-earning options using mobile-based applications, photography, health, and entrepreneurship.

BALIKA centers are located in the heart of communities, at primary schools, to offer safe learning environments where girls receive mentoring and peer support and are offered various types of skills and livelihoods training. BALIKA has taken a different approach to delaying child marriage—putting girls and their communities at the center of efforts. BALIKA has engaged community members, local leaders, parents, teachers, and others in solving the issues that make girls most vulnerable, while offering educational support and training skills to build girls’ livelihood skills so that they (and the community) see themselves as assets rather than liabilities.

Participants in all three interventions met with the same regularity and were exposed to using computers and tablets with digital contents to acquire varied skills. Project activities in all interventions included community engagement activities, and participants were offered basic life skills. The centers are equipped with a kiosk, tablets, laptop, modem, mouse, and speaker. They have a small library with books that all BALIKA members can borrow on a weekly basis, to encourage girls to develop a reading habit and enhance their knowledge on different subjects.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
early/child marriage, school attendance, math and literacy skills, income generation
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The study uses a cluster randomized controlled trial design with four arms: three different types of skill building opportunities are contrasted with varying emphasis on tutoring support, gender awareness life-skills and livelihoods oriented skills support. A total of 96 villages were included in the study, 72 were randomly assigned to the three intervention arms (1. Education; 2. Gender-based; and 3) Livelihood) and 24 were randomly selected to serve as control villages. Each of the intervention arms received similar inputs - girls were offered 44 hours of basic skills training and computing skills (ICT support) in addition to 100 hours of arm specific training; the centers received resources such as computers, books and other learning equipment; each center was supported by a locally recruited female mentor and a part-time school teacher and each center engaged in intensive community outreach activities through local support groups and engagement with parents and other adult members of the community. The specific skill building activities for each arm are as follows:
Arm 1: In the education arm, in-school girls receive educational tutoring on mathematics and English and out-of-school girls receive financial skills and communicative English learning sessions. The interventions aimed to increase educational capabilities to improve success in school to prevent early dropout, a factor commonly associated with early and child marriage.
Arm 2: In the gender rights arm, girls receive information on sexual and reproductive health gender rights, negotiation, critical thinking, decision making skills, and gender based violence. Efforts to promote and educate about gender rights and awareness, SRHR related issues to change the values regarding gender roles by changing power dynamics and by changing gender-based division of labor.
Arm 3: In the livelihoods arm, girls received training on computers, mobile based applications to provide skills in servicing phones, photography, health and entrepreneurship. In each 100 hours of lessons were given and intervention was targeted to promote opportunities and skills to girls for continuing their education and to engage in income generating activities.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Remotely by computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
96 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
11,609 adolescents were interviewed at baseline; at endline 9,982 (85.9%) were successfully re-interviewed
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Arm 1:Education: 24 clusters
Arm 2: Gender rights: 24 clusters
Arm 3: Livelihoods-skills training: 24 clusters
Control Arm: 24 clusters
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Sample size calculations assumed a maximum detectable effect size of program in each intervention arm of .1 relative to control villages. Assumptions of baseline marriage rates were based on proportions of women aged 20-24 who were married by age 15 and 18 in the DHS for the region of Khulna. Sample sizes were adjusted assuming an attrition rate of 20 percent between baseline and endline.
IRB Name
Population Council Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
August 01, 2015, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
November 30, 2015, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
96 clusters
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
11,609 baseline surveys; 9,982 endline surveys
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Arm 1: education (24 clusters); Arm 2 (gender rights) 24 clusters; Arm 3 (livelihoods and skills training) 24 clusters; Control 24 clusters
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
Child marriage forces girls into sexual relationships for which they are not physically or emotionally prepared. It can cause them to drop out of school and it limits their opportunities for community participation, including employment. A delayed marriage greatly improves a girl’s
chances for a healthy, happy, productive life. And the benefits of a later marriage go beyond the girl: her children, family, community, and country experience better health, economic, and social outcomes.

Programs that elevate girls’ visibility and status in their families and communities, and build their skills and knowledge, have been shown to delay marriage in different parts of the world. However, in Bangladesh, where efforts to prevent child marriage have focused on the enforcement of laws and policies, little research exists on what approaches work best to delay marriage and why.

To help fill this evidence gap, in 2012 the Population Council and partners embarked on a four-year study to understand whether skills-building approaches to empower girls can delay marriage in Bangladesh communities where child marriage rates are highest in three districts in southern Bangladesh: Khulna, Satkhira, and Narail. The BALIKA project implemented a randomized controlled trial involving more than 9,000
girls aged 12–18 in 72 intervention communities and 24 control communities within three districts of Bangladesh to determine what works to delay child marriage. This is the first rigorously evaluated study to provide evidence on approaches to delay child marriage in Bangladesh.

Communities were assigned to receive one of three intervention strategies in the trial for 18 months.
 EDUCATION: Girls received tutoring in mathematics and English (in-school girls), and
computing or financial training (out-of-school girls).
 GENDER-RIGHTS AWARENESS TRAINING: Girls received life skills training on gender
rights and negotiation, critical thinking, and decision-making.
 LIVELIHOODS SKILLS TRAINING: Girls received training in computers, entrepreneurship,
mobile phone servicing, photography, and basic first aid.

In the 24 communities that served as the control group of the study no program services were provided. This group was necessary to determine whether girls receiving services had a benefit compared with girls who received no services. To measure the impact of each intervention strategy in relation to the others and to the control group, a baseline survey was conducted before the project was implemented, and an endline survey was conducted after the project had been in place for 18 months. All girls participating in the BALIKA program met weekly with mentors and peers in safe, girl only locations called BALIKA centers, which helped girls develop friendships, receive training on new technologies, borrow books, and acquire the skills they need to navigate the transition from girlhood to adulthood. Girls used these skills within their communities, which
helped build confidence, demonstrate their achievements, and elevate their profiles.

BALIKA results show that programs that educate girls, build their skills for modern livelihoods, and engage their communities can reduce the likelihood of child marriage by one third and produce better health, educational, and social outcomes for girls. Girls living in BALIKA communities were one-third less likely to be married as children (0.69–0.77 relative odds adjusted for age, religion, and family wealth status) than girls living in communities not reached by the BALIKA program.

Girls who were single at the beginning of the study were one-fourth less likely to be married by the end of the study (0.76-0.78 relative odds adjusted for age, religion, and family wealth status). Each intervention showed that it was possible to significantly delay child marriage:

 In BALIKA communities where girls received educational support, girls were 31% less likely to be married as children at endline than girls in the control communities.
 In communities where girls received life skills training on gender rights and negotiation, critical thinking, and decision-making, girls were 31% less likely to be married as children at endline than girls in the control communities.
 In communities where girls received livelihoods training in entrepreneurship, mobile phone servicing, photography, and basic first aid, girls were 23% less likely to be married as children at endline than girls in the control communities.

In addition to delaying child marriage, the evaluation studied the impact of its three intervention approaches on a range of other indicators that affect education, health, and social outcomes later in life. All three interventions had similarly successful outcomes. Compared to girls outside BALIKA communities, the study found that girls participating in the program were:
 more likely to be attending school.
 20% more likely to have improved mathematical skills if they received education support and gender-rights awareness training.
 one-third more likely to be earning an income if they received gender-rights awareness or livelihoods-skills training.

These results are from an intent-to-treat analysis, in which the impact of each intervention strategy on child marriage is measured among all girls who live in the community, not just those girls who participated in the BALIKA program.
Amin, S., J. Ahmed, J. Saha, M. Hossain, and E. Haque. 2016. “Delaying child marriage through community-based skills-development programs for girls: Results from a randomized controlled study in rural Bangladesh.” New York and Dhaka, Bangladesh: Population Council.