Life Skills

Health Seeking Choices

New research conducted by Edgework Consulting revealed that there is a set of attributes that, if a young person possessed one or more, seemed to correlate significantly with that person having an increased capacity to make consistent health seeking choices.

Many programmes include “life skills” either as one component or as the central focus of their work. UNICEF defines life skills as knowledge, attitudes and the ability for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the challenges of everyday life.56 For the purposes of this discussion, life skills are divided up into three main categories:

  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Decision Making and Critical Thinking Skills
  • Coping and Self-Management

What Are Adolescent Girl Life Skills?
“Life skills” is a very broad term. Women Win defines “life skills” as any tool that serves a girl outside of sport, such as body awareness, financial savvy or self-confidence. Depending on the specific needs and life circumstances of participants, life skills education can include a wide variety of topics. Women Win has taken these life skills topics and identified (as well as added) key issues specific to the growth and development of healthy adolescent girls. These are skills that can be beneficial for girls to acquire, in addition to those skills that are more general.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills
General Adolescent Life Skills:

  • Communication
  • Negotiation/Conflict Management Skills
  • Empathy
  • Cooperation and Teamwork
  • Advocacy

Adolescent Girl Life Skills:

  • Self-Esteem and Confidence
  • Negotiation and Refusal
  • Bullying and Gossiping
  • Skills and Qualities
  • Power and Gender Relationships

Decision Making and Critical Thinking Skills
General Adolescent Life Skills:

  • Decision Making and Evaluating Future Consequences of Present Actions for Self and Others
  • Problem Solving and Identifying Alternative Solutions
  • Analysing Relevant Information, Attitudes, Social Norms, Beliefs, and Peer and Media Influences

Adolescent Girl Life Skills:

  • Rights
  • Body and Reproductive Health
  • Safe Spaces
  • Accessing Community Services
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Gender-Based Violence

Coping and Self-Management Skills
General Adolescent Life Skills:

  • Increasing Internal Self-control
  • Managing Feelings
  • Managing Stress

Adolescent Girl Life Skills:

  • Goal Setting
  • Self-image
  • Feelings and Emotions
  • Resilience

Skill building is one of the most important components of an effective SRHR education. Specific skills that are the most important for adolescent girls to acquire include:

  • Saying NO: refusing unwanted, unintended or unprotected sex
  • Saying YES with knowledge
  • Insisting on using condoms or contraception
  • Using condoms correctly
  • General assertiveness skills (coping with social pressure/ norms)
  • Obtaining condoms or contraception; visits with fellow students either to drugstores to locate and price condoms or to clinics to get information about using reproductive health services
  • Going for STI/HIV testing and treatment
  • Negotiation skills
  • Self-defence and escaping situations of sexual abuse

Useful Example – Feelings Awareness
Girls and Football SA, a sport for girls’ development organisation based in South Africa, play a game where you “check in” and “check out” after each practice session. It entails each girl talking about how she feels, what she enjoyed about the session and what she did not. Programmes can even do this game before and after matches. The outcome is that it encourages girls to be aware of and analyse their feelings.

Click here for more information about building adolescent girl life skills through a sport programme.