Millennium Challenge Corporation Implementation Plan

March 15, 2016

MCC’s Commitment to Adolescent Girls

MCC’s commitment to adolescent girls is driven by its recognition of the role gender equality plays in achieving economic growth and poverty reduction. MCC also recognizes that the ability of women to be productive members of society starts with the opportunities available to them during childhood and adolescence. Where and how MCC works on issues related to adolescent girls is driven by its principles of country ownership, its economic tools, and its policy commitment to integrating gender as it pertains to economic growth and poverty reduction. MCC’s implementation plan reflects our engagement on issues affecting adolescent girls, from country selection through compact development and implementation, as well as our work on policy and partnerships. MCC’s implementation plan addresses all five objectives of the U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy, through MCC’s particular model. Since MCC developed its Gender Policy in 2006, MCC has incorporated a focus on addressing gender equality in the context of its focused mission: poverty reduction through economic growth. While MCC recognizes the importance of gender equality as a human right, and the importance of women’s role in political life, MCC’s work on gender is focused on women as economic actors, and increasing equality for women and girls as smart economics and part of an inclusive growth strategy.

As the U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy vividly describes, globally, 62 million girls are not in school, half of whom are adolescents, 250 million adolescent girls live in poverty, and an estimated 150 million girls have experienced sexual violence. Nearly half of these girls who have experienced sexual violence were younger than 16 years of age at the time. High rates of child marriage, early childbirth and associated health risks, trafficking, illiteracy, sexual harassment, and increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS are just a few of the preventable challenges that disproportionately burden adolescent girls. As the U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy recognizes, “[g]irls’ attendance in formal school during adolescence is correlated with later marriage, later childbearing, decreased fertility rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS and other reproductive morbidities, fewer hours of domestic and/or labor market work, and greater gender equality.”[1] A World Bank analysis of 100 countries determined that increasing the percentage of women with a secondary education by one percent can lead to annual income growth of 0.3 percent/capita.[2] A 2012 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that approximately half of the economic growth in OECD countries over the last 50 years was a result of an increase in educational attainment, especially among women.[3] Helping adolescent girls achieve quality education, health, empowerment, and safety gives them a chance to reach their economic potential. This leads to their overall ability to support themselves and their families, while contributing quality human capital at a local and national level.

MCC’s approach to addressing the needs of women and adolescent girls is articulated through its unique model of foreign assistance. It starts with a competitive process for selecting countries eligible for MCC compacts: countries must achieve a passing score on MCC’s indicator scorecard, which includes 20 indicators related to Ruling Justly, Economic Freedom, and Investing in People—many of which directly refer to or indirectly impact rights and opportunities for women and girls. Once a country is selected, MCC seeks to identify evidence-based pathways through which its investments can translate into economic growth. At each stage of compact development, we seek to address gender and other social inequalities and vulnerabilities that may limit women and adolescent girls’ ability to benefit from MCC’s planned investments. At each stage of compact development, MCC also seeks to create opportunities for women and for girls as they grow up. MCC does this through investments in key sectors: education, health, nutrition, community development, water, sanitation, energy, transport, land, and agriculture. MCC also often works on legal, policy, and institutional reforms within these sectors, addressing gender and social inequalities in areas such as service delivery or rights. MCC’s work thus takes a holistic approach to the needs of adolescent girls, addressing different dimensions of their needs across the compact life cycle.

MCC’s new five-year strategic plan reaffirms its commitment to gender equality and to expanding gains from its poverty reduction model. This includes (1) identifying and supporting strategies for accelerating economic growth that are shaped by the latest and best evidence, and (2) helping the poor, women, and marginalized groups to participate more in the benefits of economic growth. MCC’s strategic plan recognizes that these two objectives should be mutually reinforcing. Together, these objectives provide new openings in economic analysis and programming, identifying new pathways through which MCC investments can benefit girls and thereby contribute to more inclusive growth and sustainable poverty reduction.

The U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy notes that agencies will implement the strategy through a range of approaches appropriate to their respective mandates and capacities. This implementation plan explains the structures and processes through which MCC’s work on adolescent girls is operationalized, and the strategic objectives of this work—consistent with MCC’s mandate, model, and tools. MCC’s implementation plan for the U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy reflects its current work, as well as new opportunities based on new approaches, emerging evidence, and promising innovations.

Operational Structure and Processes

MCC will continue to operationalize its work on adolescent girls through its country selection process, and through its policies, procedures, and structures for compact development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. These policies, procedures, and structures—as they pertain to MCC’s work on gender and adolescent girls—are shaped by MCC’s Gender Policy and an implementation framework that identifies leadership, mandate, capacity, resources, and accountability as the requirements for success. MCC’s work on adolescent girls is operationalized through the following:

MCC Gender Policy

MCC’s Gender Policy[4] sets out the justifications and authorities for mainstreaming and integrating gender throughout MCC’s work, and the roles and responsibilities of MCC and its country-based accountable entities. The policy states that “in order to maximize the impact of compacts on economic growth and poverty reduction, MCC requires that eligible countries analyze gender differences and inequalities to inform the development, design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of programs funded by MCC.” The policy also recognizes that because gender differences are structured by other social variables, gender is considered within the context of other relevant forms of social difference such as age and ethnicity. MCC’s Gender Policy was subject to a thorough review process, incorporating inputs from internal and external stakeholders.

Country-based Teams and Accountable Entities

An important feature of the MCC’s model is country ownership, a process wherein compact-eligible countries identify their priorities for achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. After identifying their priorities, compact-eligible countries develop compact project and program proposals through broad consultation with stakeholders in their society. Once MCC and its country partner agree on a compact program, a country sets up a local accountable entity (referred to most commonly as a “Millennium Challenge Account” or “MCA”) to manage and oversee all aspects of implementation. Both country-based compact development teams, and later, MCAs, must include a full-time, senior social scientist with gender expertise. Through compact development and implementation, MCC plays an important oversight role. MCC provides technical support and ensures compliance with MCC policies and processes, including MCC’s Gender Policy and MCC’s Gender Integration Guidelines. Compact-eligible and, later, grantee countries thus take the lead in determining where and how compacts will address the conditions and needs of adolescent girls.

Technical Sectors

MCC’s compact work is organized by technical specialties, including sectoral: agriculture and land; energy; human and community development; transport and vertical structures; finance, investment and trade; and water; and cross-cutting: economic analysis; environmental and social performance; fiscal accountability; gender and social inclusion; monitoring and evaluation; procurement, and legal. Each group assigns staff (as technical leads or in other supporting roles) on MCC’s compact development and implementation teams, as relevant to the compact’s sectors. MCAs have technical experts in each of these fields on their teams as well. MCC and MCA Gender & Social Inclusion (GSI) technical leads are on all compacts.

MCC’s approach to gender mainstreaming ensures that gender and other social and demographic variables are incorporated into each technical sector’s work. The GSI technical staff have a primary oversight role in ensuring that issues pertaining to gender and, as relevant, age are integrated as appropriate throughout each project, and the Human Capital and Community Development group regularly considers gender and age in projects it leads. GSI staff also sit on committees and working groups that work on policy initiatives, guidance documents, and other internal initiatives, and develop and implement external partnerships that focus on gender and related issues.

Gender Integration Guidelines

Recognizing that a gender policy is not enough, MCC developed Gender Integration Guidelines as a comprehensive approach to operationalizing the integration of gender and social inclusion at every stage of compact development, implementation, and closure. For instance, MCC and its country counterparts must include a senior social scientist with gender expertise as a technical lead on all compact development teams, as well as at the MCAs responsible for compact implementation. These experts work with their team to ensure integration of gender and social concerns in all components and documents listed below. MCC also requires the development of a Social and Gender Integration Plan as a requirement for disbursement of funds, and MCC compacts often include gender and social analysis and integration in:

  • Analyses pertaining to constraints to economic growth, and sector-specific research
  • Concept notes and project proposals, including their due diligence
  • Public consultations
  • Terms of reference, contracts, and deliverables for feasibility studies, environmental and social assessments, economic studies, and other studies informing compact design and implementation, as relevant
  • Economic rate of return analysis and beneficiary analysis
  • Decision tools such as investment memos
  • Project budgets, as relevant, and MCA administrative budgets
  • Training for MCAs and their implementing partners
  • Monitoring and evaluation plans, study designs, and instruments == MCC quarterly performance reviews
  • Closeout plans

Compact Development Stages

Once a country is eligible for a compact, the government’s compact development team begins the process of conceiving, proposing, and developing a set of proposed investments, interventions, and activities. There are five phases of compact development: preliminary analysis, project definition, project development and appraisal, compact negotiations, and preparation for entry into force. At each stage, MCC and country compact development staff are responsible for providing expertise and input for social and gender analysis, which may be relevant to adolescent girls. Specific approaches are detailed in the Sector Guidance, discussed below.

Sector Guidance

The GSI practice group has an internal guidance document that ensures that the use of consistent approaches and best practices in gender integration and social inclusion are applied in each type of project that MCC undertakes, and that these best practices are institutionalized. This is how GSI ensures that its approaches and processes for analyzing and addressing the conditions and needs of adolescent girls are addressed as relevant. This guidance also details how different sectors and specialists collaborate internally and externally to ensure inter-disciplinary perspectives. For example, the GSI guidance document lays out how gender, social, and demographic characteristics such as age, as well as policy and institutional issues, are analyzed in each sector (e.g., agriculture, education, water, energy), and incorporated at each stage of compact development and implementation. The human and community development (HCD) sector guidance, for example, describes how the HCD team analyzes evidence of internal and external inefficiencies in school and health systems that might contribute to inequities in service delivery, including to adolescent girls and women. It also explains how HCD team members analyze exogenous factors that impact access to services, to illuminate specific constraints that should be addressed at the institutional, community, and household levels and identify new strategies for service delivery.

Public Consultations

Consultations are an important component of compact design, as stakeholder engagement with a wide range of government, non-governmental organizations, and communities ensures that the information MCC gathers is inclusive. This starts with consultations as part of the constraints to growth analysis, and continues throughout project development and design, environmental and social impact assessment, and compact implementation and monitoring. And throughout this evolution, the nature of, and participants in, MCC and partner country consultations also evolve. Compact consultations involve groups representing the interests of different populations, based on socioeconomic status, sex, age, and other relevant characteristics in the country. During compact implementation, MCAs also have mandatory stakeholder committees representing different government and non-governmental constituencies.

Economic Analysis and Monitoring & Evaluation

A focus on results is one of MCC’s core founding principles. MCC uses a series of economic tools to identify investment priorities in a given country and to inform project selection and design. The conditions and needs of adolescent girls may arise in the context of these tools. For example, the initial constraints analysis systematically considers social and gender inequalities among children that may affect growth and poverty. Economic rate of return analysis conducted during compact development may consider data on adolescent girls where relevant to the projects. Program logics incorporate factors related to adolescent girls where relevant to the projects.

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) considers gender, age, and other socio-economic characteristics as relevant to project activities, in its design and data disaggregation. MCC’s M&E policy states, "When linked to program design, evaluations also should examine intra-household dynamics of male and female beneficiaries, the cost-effectiveness of delivering gender-differentiated interventions, and differential impacts on men and women, and how gender integration enhances income growth. M&E plans document how gender is being addressed in evaluations as relevant by country, and M&E staff will work with GSI staff to incorporate gender in evaluations and surveys as appropriate."[5]

Strategic Objectives

MCC will implement the U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy by focusing on the following strategic objectives as they relate to MCC’s specific investments in partner countries, and as consistent with MCC’s model and authorities:

  • Promote human rights and gender equality through country selection
  • Improve human capital and increase economic opportunity
  • Reduce risks during infrastructure construction
  • Strengthen economic analysis and gender data collection, reporting and use
  • Strengthen public and private partnerships

1. Promote human rights and gender equality through country selection

MCC addresses the human and economic rights of women and girls at the policy level: through country selection, ongoing monitoring of compliance with country selection indicators, and policy reforms that are part of MCC compacts. Country selection MCC’s process of selecting countries as eligible for MCC compacts is an important tool for promoting human rights and gender equality. To be considered for eligibility, countries must have a passing scorecard. The scorecard is comprised of 20 indicators representing policy performance in three areas: Ruling Justly, Economic Freedom, and Investing in People. Countries must pass the Control of Corruption indicator, either the Political Rights or Civil Liberties indicator, and pass half of the 20 indicators overall. “Passing” and “failing” are benchmarked so countries are compared with their low-income and lower-middle income "peer groups."

Many of the country selection indicators and their components have direct and indirect implications for women and adolescent girls. The Gender in the Economy Indicator is the most far-reaching, encompassing ten rights that must be conferred equally to men and women—from being able to pursue any job or profession, to opening a bank account, to being designated a household head. These rights affect adolescent girls’ aspirations and goals, and their social and economic status, as they become adults. Other indicators that specifically mention women and gender include: Rule of Law: whether women have access to the judicial system, and equal access to land; Civil Liberties: including legal equality, violence against women, trafficking of women, gender discrimination in economic and social matters, and government control of marriage partners; Political Rights: including universal and equal voting rights for women, Land Rights and Access, Girls’ Primary Education Completion Rate (a measurement for low-income countries), and Girls’ Secondary Education Enrollment Ratio (a measurement for lower-middle income countries). Still other indicators do not mention gender, but have implications for women and girls, including Control of Corruption, which may impact human trafficking and abuse of women and girls; Government Effectiveness, which includes quality of public services; immunization rates; Health Expenditures; Primary Education Expenditures; Child Health; Access to Credit; and others. MCC continuously re-examines its selection indicators each year, and may refine them based on agency priorities, stakeholder consultation, and data availability. Strict requirements are necessary for an indicator to be seriously considered, including data availability, country coverage, and a clear relationship with economic growth. As an example of the type of refinements MCC might consider in the future, MCC could explore indicators related to adolescent girls, such as child marriage, and secondary education for low-income countries, among others.

There is documented evidence that countries have reformed their policies in order to improve their scorecard performance and eventually be considered for compact eligibility. For example, when the MCC scorecard incorporated a new Gender in the Economy indicator in 2011, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire used it to guide their efforts to improve their family code. In 2012, Côte d’Ivoire passed a new code giving women the same rights as men to choose where they live, apply for a passport, pursue a job or profession, and become head of household. Côte d’Ivoire now passes MCC’s Gender in the Economy indicator.

Once a country is selected as eligible, it is monitored throughout compact development and implementation to ensure that it maintains its commitment to good governance. MCC may suspend or even terminate a compact, or stop development on a proposed new compact, if there has been a pattern of action inconsistent with the eligibility criteria.

Legal, policy, and institutional reform in compact development

MCC has increasingly focused on supporting legal, policy, and institutional reforms to make compact investments more effective and sustainable. Sometimes these reforms have a gender equality objective, for example, where a change in legal rights is necessary to enable women to benefit from compact investments or the economic growth anticipated from them. These reforms may be a condition required for compact signing or part of compact design. For example, in the first Lesotho compact, MCC made compact signing conditional on achieving gender equality in specific economic rights that had been supported broadly by Lesotho’s civil society organizations.

MCC also funded studies that identified additional legal reform needed to harmonize the legislation that granted those rights with earlier laws, and conditioned the compact’s start on these additional reforms. The Lesotho compact also included a Gender Equality in Economic Rights Activity, which supported outreach and training on gender equality and economic rights across the country. MCC compacts often support institutional reforms within ministries, departments, and other quasi-governmental entities, such as utilities, to address the needs of women and girls in the education, health, water, sanitation, and energy sectors. As MCC increases its focus on policy and institutional reform going forward, this work is likely to increase.

2. Improve human capital and increase economic opportunity

Most of MCC’s work supporting adolescent girls takes place under this strategic objective, the components of which directly correspond to the objectives of the U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy. The sections below describe MCC’s current approach to working on issues affecting adolescent girls, and potential new areas of investment. It is important to bear in mind, however, that the sectors and projects selected, and project designs, are determined through the MCC model, which emphasizes processes of country ownership and rigorous economic analysis, as well as requirements for social and gender analysis.

Strengthen human capital

Promoting Education Access and Achievement

Girls’ retention in school is a smart economic choice. There is a strong correlation between girls’ education and accelerated economic growth, slower population growth, higher wages, increased agricultural yields and labor productivity, and improved health and well-being at the household level. As such, where consistent with its model and economic analysis, MCC supports activities designed to ensure that adolescent girls receive adequate preparation for the world of work, drawing on evidence-based best practices to improve access and achievement. The below strategies apply whether considering secondary schooling or early technical/vocational training.

To reduce inequalities of access, MCC has supported programs to reduce adolescent girls’ time and distance to school, and to make school facilities girl-friendly. MCC has also supported efforts to reduce economic barriers to schooling girls, such as school fees, cost of materials, transport, and/ or school meals. Programs address the quality of the learning environment, as well as elements of school culture that drive adolescent girls’ motivation to learn. This includes increasing the supply of well-trained female teachers and school administrators, and enhancing community engagement in girls’ education and school management. High quality teaching and learning materials promote positive gender norms, reinforce foundational literacy and numeracy skills, and should provide skills essential to meeting the economic empowerment needs of adolescent girls in targeted areas—whether for productive agriculture or for the 21st century workplace. This includes effective preparation for science, technology, engineering and mathematics-oriented (STEM) career paths, where women are generally under-represented. For example, MCC’s second compact with Georgia includes the development of a module focused on social and gender inclusion, among other training for secondary school teachers, principals, and school professional development facilitators, aimed at reducing gender bias in the classroom and in the broader school environment; additionally, public outreach encourages high school girls to consider higher education in STEM.

Within the framework of related policy and institutional reforms, MCC works closely with MCAs to promote mechanisms that foster innovation and flexible programming and drive accountability for girls’ learning, including through public-private and philanthropic partnerships, community-led schools, performance incentives, and disaggregated gender-data initiatives (in the labor, education, and training spheres). For example, MCC intends to introduce graduated “pay for results” contracts in Morocco through its technical/vocational education public-private partnership grant programs. These will provide bonus payments to school budgets for meeting “stretch targets,” such as reductions in secondary school dropout rates.

Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving the Health of Adolescent Girls

Puberty marks a time when girls are increasingly vulnerable to leaving school, child marriage, early pregnancy, HIV, sexual exploitation, coercion, and violence. This can be exacerbated in post-conflict and fragile environments. Improving the health of adolescent girls creates a virtuous cycle, improving their well-being in the present as well as their school attendance—which in the future improves their economic opportunities and their children’s well-being. Thus, where MCC’s model identifies human capital constraints on growth and poverty reduction, leading to human capital projects, MCC addresses adolescent girls’ vulnerabilities in this context. For example, MCC works to ensure that there are safe and culturally accessible spaces for adolescent girls, reduce the threat of gender-based violence within and around schools and communities, promote psychosocial services, and engage male peers, male community leaders, policy makers, and local authorities to be part of the solution as necessary. MCC will consider supporting programs to reduce health barriers that disrupt girls’ access to, and progression through, secondary school, including preventing and responding to HIV/AIDS, early pregnancy, nutrition, menstrual hygiene, CEFM, and promoting school-based water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Puberty is also a time when girls’ micro-nutrition needs increase significantly, due to the bodily demands that accompany a growth spurt and the onset of menstruation. This is exacerbated by the need to share their nutrients with their babies during early pregnancy. It is a time when adolescent girls are likely to have developed habits that contribute to becoming overweight or obese. MCC has supported community-driven programming that improves the access of girls and women to high quality health services and to micronutrient supplementation. Where consistent with our model and relevant to the project objective, MCC might support a component on adolescent girls’ health, which could include, for example, access to gynecological health services offered either through school or at community-based clinics or hospitals. MCC has and will continue to pursue opportunities to prevent the spread of non-communicable disease through behavior change efforts in schools and communities, and development of diagnostic services that can reach young girls. MCC’s work in health and nutrition communications also extends to reaching men and boys, which is key to changing social norms and providing the enabling environment for the success of these initiatives.

Strengthen economic opportunity and build social capital in the transition to adulthood

MCC programs also provide adolescent girls with the power to make and act on economic decisions, which will affect their long-term livelihoods. This entails providing both marketable skills and social network support strategies necessary to enhance adolescent girls’ future prospects for participation in the labor market and to reduce their vulnerability at the workplace. Where consistent with MCC’s model and project objectives, MCC might consider programs for girls that include life skills, entrepreneurship, mentoring for and self-advocacy by girls. Given evidence that the obstacles to schooling for adolescent girls can be overwhelming, MCC will continue to consider both formal and non-formal training and learning services shaped around improving livelihoods— such as functional literacy and numeracy, vocational and financial skills, and opportunities for girls to learn and use new technologies. It is important to mention that engagement of girls from early adolescence in these economic empowerment initiatives may increase the likelihood of their being able to delay marriage, as well as make healthy choices about their own sexual health.

Finally, MCC recognizes family decisions around adolescent girls’ schooling are heavily impacted by the perception of potential economic returns. Thus, through some of its compact activities, MCC is supporting effective school-to-work transitions for adolescent girls through career guidance, job support, or intermediation services, and important policy and legal reforms that reduce gender discrimination and female exploitation at and around community-based learning centers and the workplace.

Promote access to opportunities through water, sanitation, and energy investments

Over half of MCC’s portfolio is in infrastructure, which includes large investments in water, sanitation, and energy. In many compacts, MCC not only builds infrastructure, but addresses barriers to access through institutional reforms, financing mechanisms, information provision, and behavior change communications. MCC’s work on service delivery in water, sanitation, and energy has the potential to significantly improve the lives of adolescent girls, contributing to their human capital development and their long-term economic opportunity. Adolescent girls are often responsible for collecting water for their households, walking long distances, waiting in long lines, and facing risks of sexual violence along the way. Adolescent girls are also at risk of sexual violence when using latrines that are in dark or isolated locations. Poor sanitation facilities and hygiene practices also result in girls missing time at school, due to illness or when they are responsible for the care of other family members. Proper menstrual hygiene management (facilities, disposal, and awareness) also affects school attendance and retention. MCC investments in water and sanitation can thus preserve adolescent girls’ time that they can use for studying or other activities, and improve their health and schooling. In Zambia, for example, an innovation grant program is supporting the installation of bio latrines at schools, hand-washing facilities, and hygiene education with particular attention to girls. Investments in energy can similarly save girls time by reducing the need to travel distances to collect firewood, and may improve their health where improved sources of fuel replace dirtier ones, improve safety through outdoor lighting, and provide lighting for studying at home. MCC’s work on water, sanitation, and energy also supports employment opportunities for women in these sectors, and productive opportunities through energy and water use.

Increase economic security through land rights and value chain activity

MCC compacts have supported a variety of agriculture and land projects. Land rights in particular present a unique opportunity to transform equal access to these rights for girls and women, who often face cultural or legal barriers to acquiring land through inheritance, transfer, or other means. MCC compacts have supported efforts in policy and legal reform, formalization of property land rights and information, education and communication campaigns in a gender transformative way. Efforts in irrigation and land reform projects have sought to specifically include women and their daughters as beneficiaries through joint titling efforts, lottery, or innovative group ownership in a way that is appropriate for the cultural context of the projects and that gains the buy-in of the targeted communities. In agriculture projects, the challenges affecting women and adolescent girls include their invisibility in the value chains. Women and adolescent girls are often thought of as support for the family farm, and their limited land rights have broad impacts, from cooperative membership to access to finance. MCC works to identify the challenges and opportunities women and girls face within value chains and identify and support activities that increase the income earning potential of women, particularly in value added activities.

Make roads projects gender-responsive and increase economic opportunity

MCC compacts have supported the construction of primary and secondary roads in a number of countries. Road projects present gender-specific risks and opportunities, including those for adolescent girls. MCC has implemented various measures to address these. In the area of road design, opportunities have been sought to improve gender-responsiveness through design features such as construction of restrooms, rest stops, and safety features for pedestrians. These benefit women and girls in particular, as they are often more likely to use roads as pedestrians rather than as drivers. Job opportunities for women have also been emphasized through supporting training and hiring of women for positions such as flag wavers, welders, or carpenters, as well as apprenticeships for adolescent girls (16 and older) in these areas. Women and adolescent girls benefit from these opportunities through acquiring skills in non-traditional but often more highly paid arenas than they may have otherwise pursued. Roads projects have also undertaken extensive community education campaigns on critical concerns that disproportionately affect adolescent girls, such as HIV/AIDS, trafficking in persons, and GBV. These have helped raise awareness of girls’ rights and safety risks not just among the girls themselves, but also among the broader communities in which they reside, helping create a safer environment for them.

3. Reduce risks during infrastructure construction

Counter-trafficking in persons (C-TIP)

Adolescent girls are highly likely to be the primary victims of trafficking in persons (TIP) in many contexts where MCC works. For instance, in the case where a construction project leads to resettlement, a poorly managed resettlement plan or a lack of safeguards could lead to impoverished families selling or coercing their daughters into the sex trade. Construction sites offer a particularly risky setting where an influx of predominantly male workers increases the demand for sex services, leading to potentially harmful sexual activity for adolescent girls and others, who are coerced or forced into sexual activity. A related risk is the recruitment of child domestic workers to meet demands of activities related to the construction site.

MCC has a zero tolerance approach to TIP, and has developed a strong C-TIP policy. The C-TIP policy demonstrates MCC’s strong commitment to identifying and alleviating any potential risks for TIP associated with MCC-funded projects. Based on the U.S. Department of State’s TIP Report, Tier 3 countries that have had sanctions applied cannot be included on MCC’s annual candidate country list.[6] In addition, a TIP risk assessment is conducted on every project. In newer compacts, MCC has worked with partner countries to prevent, mitigate, and monitor TIP risks. This work has included adding TIP assessments to environmental and social impact assessment processes; including anti-TIP provisions in the standard bidding documents and contract forms used by MCAs; and developing and implementing TIP risk management plans for projects when a specific risk has been identified.


Adolescent girls are at a disproportionately high risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS due to early marriage, sexual abuse, and economic vulnerability. As noted above, high inflows of mostly male construction workers in communities near construction sites often increases the risk of HIV/AIDS, along with the risk of prostitution and pregnancies. To address this, MCC’s standard bidding documents include an HIV-related clause requiring that contractors conduct an HIV/AIDS awareness program in the project areas and undertake other measures to reduce the risk of the transfer of HIV between and among the contractor’s personnel and the local community, to promote early diagnosis and to assist affected individuals.

Gender-based Violence

Evidence indicates that around 120 million girls worldwide have been victims of forced sexual acts within their lifetime. These abuses typically took place for the first time between ages 15–19, though in most countries at least 20 percent of girls who reported sexual violence said the first time occurred between ages 10–14.[7] As part of its broader investments, MCC has implemented campaigns on women’s and girls’ rights and GBV, often targeting adolescent girls. Given its relation to both HIV/AIDS and TIP, these GBV awareness campaigns often have been conducted in construction site areas in conjunction with campaigns on HIV/AIDS and TIP.

4. Improve economic analysis and gender data collection, reporting and use

Economic analysis tools

As part of its new strategic plan, MCC will sharpen its economic and social analysis tools, deepening analysis of the relationship between gender and social inequalities and economic growth in the constraints analysis at national and sub-national levels, and seeking evidence on benefit streams most relevant to women and excluded groups. This opens new doors to incorporating evidence on the relationship between the conditions of adolescent girls, economic growth, and poverty reduction.

Monitoring and evaluation

MCC has increasingly worked towards improving gender integration in compact program logic, and in its M&E plans and tools. MCC’s participation in the Data 2X initiative has accelerated these efforts. M&E indicators for MCC’s work related to adolescent girls are developed on a project-by-project basis. In addition, MCC will participate in the U.S. Adolescent Girls Strategy interagency working group to establish metrics to measure the progress of the implementation of the strategy.

5. Strengthen public and private partnerships

Let Girls Learn

MCC’s goals, mission, and country-driven approach is consistent with the U.S. government’s Let Girls Learn initiative’s objective to promote adolescent girls’ education. MCC compacts are investing in education projects to ensure that students obtain the foundational knowledge and skills needed to get jobs and increase livelihoods, and MCC has also sought to reduce poverty by maximizing girls’ and women’s educational opportunities through improving quality and access; training teachers, administrators, counsellors, and community leaders; and conducting policy reforms.


The Girls CHARGE initiative includes more than 40 partners from government, NGOs, and the private sector, focusing on advancing girls’ secondary education across five priorities: access, safety, quality learning, transitions, and supporting local leadership on these issues. MCC’s contribution has included hosting events to share resources related to these priorities, as well as discussing creative indicators and tools to promote girls’ learning, girls’ empowerment, and social transformation within communities.

United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls

The U. S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, of which this plan is a part, has the goal of ensuring adolescent girls are educated, healthy, economically empowered, and free from violence and discrimination, thereby promoting global development, security, and prosperity.

Equal Futures Partnership

As a participant in the Equal Futures initiative to empower women politically and economically, MCC’s work directly contributes to the initiative’s commitments to action, particularly STEM and economic support for women entrepreneurs.

Data 2X

Data 2X, an initiative led by the United Nations Foundation, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, highlights global gender data gaps and develops and supports partnerships to fill priority gaps. Through its participation in this initiative, MCC committed to: (1) systematically review the data the agency has collected and prioritize the publication of all sex-disaggregated data, as well as increase future gender data collection and use through improved survey design and monitoring and evaluation; (2) work with partners to develop and implement recommendations for how gender data can be more fully incorporated into the International Aid Transparency Initiative reporting standard, with a special focus on sex-disaggregated results data; and (3) launch a gender-data challenge to increase the use of gender-data in selected partner countries. Where relevant and possible, these data efforts will further disaggregate by age.

MCC-PEPFAR Data Collaborative for Local Impact

MCC and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are partnering to invest up to $21.8 million in Country Data Collaboratives for Local Impact in sub-Saharan Africa that will use data on HIV/AIDS, global health, gender equality, and economic growth to address the root causes of insufficient or ineffective use of data for decision-making, improve programs and policies, and enable greater local impact. Country Data Collaboratives will leverage existing data and make it more accessible, strengthen data analysis and visualization, enhance opportunities for citizen contribution to data, cultivate talent, and ensure mutual accountability when implementing development aid so we can make a sustainable difference. Adolescent girls are an important focus of PEPFAR’s work, and will thus also be an important part of this initiative.


As part of its work to reduce poverty through economic growth, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is committed to improving the well-being and opportunities of adolescent girls around the world. This implementation plan outlines our ongoing approach to utilizing our agency structures, processes, and compacts to address the challenges faced by adolescent girls, and by doing so promoting growth and poverty reduction. Through addressing human rights and gender equality, improving human capital and economic opportunities, reducing risks, improving economic analysis and monitoring and evaluation, and strengthening public and private partnerships, MCC will use the strengths of its model to contribute to the implementation of the U.S. Strategy on Adolescent Girls.

[1] United States Government (2016). “United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls.” Mimeo. Washington, D.C.

[2] Dollar, D. and R. Gatti. (1999), “Gender Inequality, Income and Growth: Are Good Times Good for Women?” Working Paper Series No. 1. Washington, D.C.: Policy Research Report on Gender and Development, World Bank.

[3] Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 2012. Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now. Paris: OECD.

[4] Millennium Challenge Corporation, (2011). Gender Policy. Millennium Challenge Corporation. Washington, D.C.

[5] Millennium Challenge Corporation, (2012). Policy for Monitoring & Evaluation of Compacts and Threshold Programs. Millennium Challenge Corporation. Washington, D.C.

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[7] UNICEF, (2014). Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children. UNICEF, New York.