Background: 21 million girls get pregnant every year. Many initiatives are empowering girls. Various studies have looked at girl empowerment, however, there is contradicting evidence, and even less literature from developing countries. Methods: We searched articles published between January 2000 to January 2019. We followed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and registered our protocol on the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews PROSPERO (CRD42019117414). Nine articles were selected for review. Quality appraisal was done using separate tools for qualitative studies, cohort and cross‐sectional studies and randomized control trials. Results: Eight studies included educational empowerment, four studies included community empowerment, three studies included economic empowerment, while two studies discussed policy empowerment. Three studies were of fair quality; two qualitative and one cross‐sectional study were of high quality, while three studies had low quality. Discussion. Studies showed a favorable impact of girl empowerment on adolescent pregnancies and risky sexual behaviors. Education empowerment came through formal education or health systems such as in family planning clinics. Community empowerment was seen as crucial in girls’ development, from interactions with parents to cultural practices. Economic empowerment was direct like cash transfer programs or indirect through benefits of economic growth. Policies such as contraceptive availability or compulsory school helped reduce pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1664
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 4 2020


  • Adolescent
  • Community
  • Economy
  • Education
  • Empowerment
  • Girl
  • Global health
  • Policy
  • Pregnancy
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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