Dance4Life launches new pilot in Nepal

In 2017 Dance4Life launched its new Youth Empowerment Model – a new peer-led curriculum based on positive youth development methodologies and the culmination of 12 years of research and programmatic evidence. In the next three years, we will be piloting the curriculum called the Journey4Life with new and existing partners.

Today we examine why we chose Nepal as one of our five pilot programmes. We interviewed our Amsterdam-based Partner Manager for Nepal, Saad Haroon, to learn more. We will profile each of our pilot countries: Kenya, Russia, Tanzania, and Ghana, in upcoming issues our newsletter.

Some facts about Nepal:

  • Adolescent population: 24%
  • Percentage of girls who get married before age 18: 41%
  • Percentage of boys who get married before age 18: 11%
  • Proportion of married adolescent girls aged 15 – 19 who are already mothers or expecting their first child: 17%


1. Why is it so important that we focus on Nepal?

We want to pilot our new Journey4Life model in one of the South Asian countries in which we work. In this region, we find child marriages to be the most pivotal issue to address. We already have a very strong programme running in Nepal called Save the Date, so there’s a strong foundation to pilot our new model with peer educators from our partners Restless Development. We want our new franchisees to have experience with implementing SRHR programmes and Restless already have a system in place.

2. How will we be working with our Nepal partner, Restless Development?

In 2018 we’ll have an outcome evaluation to assess how the curriculum affected the behaviour of young people, and the operations research. For example: If we deliver 3 workshops were we able to provide enough support?


Normally a pilot takes 3 years. In 2018 we’ll already evaluate how successful the Youth Empowerment Model has been in changing behaviour and attitudes in young people. Attitudes to gender equality and social norms affect the actual choices adolescents make when it comes to sexual health in the long run. As for early child marriages, more knowledge means speaking up against these same norms. What our programme does differently is focus on young boys and helping them speak up for girls, too.

3. What would you say is unique about our new Youth Empowerment Model?

One of the major changes (from our last model) in our approach is that we’ve departed from CSE (comprehensive sexuality education) to the empowerment of young people which is a complete shift in how we want to approach sexual health outcomes. Not a lot of organisations have empowerment programmes directly related to SRHR.


Another way we’re now unique is that we’ve become a social franchise. This changes how we work with our partner, making us much more accountable to them because they have agency and control. The partners take more ownership, taking lead in agendas for workshops, contextualisation, recruiting etc. and putting the money to good use. That’s the shift in power balance.

4. How has our new model been received so far?

Our partners have expressed that Dance4Life is what makes them stand out from other programmes. Our programme is quite unique compared to other organisations. The Youth Empowerment Model has been designed for ultimate practical application, with a workable model and concept and a comprehensive contextualisation process.