This systematic review of reviews synthesizes evidence on the impact of interventions to prevent violence against adolescent girls and young women 10-24 years (VAWG) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Theories of women's empowerment and the social ecology of multifaceted violence frame the review. Child abuse, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGMC), child marriage, intimate partner violence (IPV), and sexual violence were focal outcomes.
Our review followed the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) for the systematic review of reviews, and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) for a systematic review of recent intervention studies.
Of 35 reviews identified between June 7 and July 20, 2016, 18 were non-duplicate systematic reviews of medium-to-high quality.
Half of these 18 reviews focused on interventions to prevent IPV. Only four focused on adolescents, of which three focused on child marriage and one compared findings across early and late adolescence.
None focused on interventions to prevent child abuse or sexual violence in adolescent/young women. From these 18 reviews and the supplemental systematic review of intervention studies, data were extracted on 34 experimental or quasi-experimental intervention studies describing 28 interventions.
Almost all intervention studies measured impacts on one form of VAWG. Most studies assessed impacts on child marriage (n = 13), then IPV (n = 8), sexual violence (n = 4), child abuse (n = 3), and FGMC (n = 3). Interventions included 1-6 components, involving skills to enhance voice/agency (n = 17), social networks (n = 14), human resources like schooling (n = 10), economic incentives (n = 9), community engagement (n = 11) and community infrastructure development (n = 6).
Bundled individual-level interventions and multilevel interventions had more favorable impacts on VAWG. Interventions involving community engagement, skill-building to enhance voice/agency, and social-network expansion show promise to reduce VAWG.
Future interventions should target poly-victimization, compare impacts across adolescence, and include urban, out-of-school, married, and displaced/conflict-affected populations in LMICs, where VAWG may be heightened.
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