The power and capacity to recognize and voice one’s hopes, make decisions about one’s life, and take action is fundamental to full and equal participation in society and key to educational achievement. Yet efforts to expand opportunities for young people often overlook the importance of supporting the development and exercise of agency.
For adolescent girls around the world, agency is a practical issue. Every day, girls make decisions about their lives and futures in their families, schools, and communities, while simultaneously navigating larger social structures, norms, and systems. Accounting for this daily struggle is vital to improving learning opportunities and life outcomes for youth and their communities. Yet the agency of young people—especially that of girls and young women living in the most marginalized contexts—is often misunderstood, unrecognized, underdeveloped, and/or actively stifled.
Since May of 2022, the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at Brookings has worked to explore agency through the Learning and Action Alliance for Girls’ Agency (LAAGA), a collaborative community of practice comprised of 23 leaders in gender equality in and through education from 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East. Informed by feminist and decolonial practices in development, LAAGA has sought to be a non-hierarchical, participatory, and radically transparent network that promotes agency by centering the knowledge and expertise of its members and the communities they work with.
On Tuesday, November 7, LAAGA members discussed the first phase of their collaborative research on girls’ agency which aims to understand what agency means for adolescent girls in marginalized rural contexts in Bangladesh, the Kenya-Uganda border, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. How do these girls express their agency in both small and large ways? And how can practices, policies, relations, and norms more effectively center girls as transformative—and thriving—agents of change?
Viewers submitted questions for speakers via email to email@example.com and via Twitter/X using #LAAGA.
Panel discussionNangyalai Attal 2021 Echidna Global Scholar - Brookings Institution, Former Senior Policy Specialist - Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVET-A) of Afghanistan, Founder - HodeEdem Dorothy Ossai 2021 Echidna Global Scholar - Brookings Institution, Founder and Executive Director - MAYEIN