Feature Story

Generation Breakthrough

24 July 2017
Students take part in Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS) discussion at Oxford Missionary School, Barisal. Photo: Matthew Taylor, UNFPA Asia and the Pacific

Generation Breakthrough is UNFPA’s flagship project on adolescents and youth.

Started in 2012 with generous support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the project engages around 140,000 adolescents, ages 10-19. It can be found in 300 secondary schools, 50 madrasas and 150 adolescent clubs across Bangladesh.

Generation Breakthrough equips young people with life skills and knowledge. It uses innovative approaches to positively shift attitudes and behaviours around gender roles, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health.

As a result, empowered young people can reach their full potential and contribute more to social and economic development.

With over a third of the population, 52 million, being adolescents and youth, Generation Breakthrough is reaching young people today so they can build better, healthier, fulfilling futures for themselves and for Bangladesh.

Challenges for Young People in Bangladesh

Adolescents in Bangladesh suffer disproportionately from Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The unequal gender norms they learn at a young age often turn boys and girls into future perpetrators and victims of violence.

Additionally, their lack of access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information, services and rights increases their vulnerability to child marriage, unplanned pregnancies, maternal mortality and morbidity, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.

Empowering a Generation

Generation Breakthrough works with adolescents directly and with the role models who influence them the most such as parents, teachers, sports instructors and community leaders.

The project’s main interventions are:

Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS) Module

GEMS is a 2-year gender equity and violence prevention curriculum for adolescents ages 12-14 years old. Through lessons, drama, discussions and journal activities, GEMS enables adolescents to build healthy relationships by developing gender-equitable attitudes.

Dosh Unisher Mor Helpline

The helpline provides Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) counselling and service referrals, and violence prevention services. The Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology of the University of Dhaka helps maintain the quality of the counseling services. The helpline is available 7 days a week, 9:00am-9:00pm excluding government holidays. Helpline number: 09612 600 600

Dosh Unisher Mor Campaign

The campaign combines media activities and community-level interventions to reach adolescents, religious leaders, community leaders and school management committees through:

  • A 100-episode radio program on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) and Gender Based Violence (GBV) aired on Radio Today.
  • Events and competitions held at schools and clubs that generate discussions and raise awareness on ASRH and GBV issues
  • Community-level street dramas that develop awareness on ASRH and the ways gender inequality make women and girls vulnerable
  • Social media, primarily Facebook, is used to generate support for the campaign
  • Interactive games for adolescents on sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • A specially designed edutainment computer game and board games help adolescents learn about SRH in fun, interactive ways.

Community Level Advocacy

Community advocacy meetings are held around target schools and clubs to sensitize key stakeholders — such as parents, community leaders and school management committees — to adolescent sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence topics and issues. 

What Young People Are Saying About Generation Breakthrough