Girl Effect are a creative social business whose driving purpose is to “create a new normal with and for girls” in developing nations. Primarily working in Africa, Girl Effect believes that providing girls with skills, ideas and knowledge is the key to breaking through poverty. Through the use of mobile technology, innovative research and community engagement, Girl Effect aims to “challenge discriminatory gender norms and start conversations” about the potential that girls hold in breaking through these poverty cycles.
Girl Effect’s main community engagement projects are currently centred in Ethiopia and Rwanda, in which they’ve created “youth brands” that aim to inspire and inform through the use of journalism, drama and music. These youth brands provide multimedia platforms spanning across magazine, radio and mobile, providing a platform for girls to learn new skills, be exposed to new conversations, and gain access to advice about topics such as education and sexual health.
Through interactive technology and real-world safe spaces, Girl Effect have also set up “Girls Network”, which involves both online and real-world youth clubs aiming to empower African girls, provide networks, and provide a space to build skills and knowledge. As an extension of this, Girl Effect offers a free helpline called “Girls Connect” which gives girls access to on-demand content, conversations and mentorship.
Girl Effect’s most expansive project is Girl Effect Mobile (GEM), a global digital platform which “connects girls to vital information, entertaining content and to each other”. With the belief that increased access to knowledge about health, education and safety will result in greater levels of self-confidence and a heightened ability to overcome cultural barriers, GEM provides an interactive and relevant support platform of stories, advice, forums, conversations, polls and connections, all based on the user’s geolocation.
Through innovative research and relatively simple mobile technologies, Girl Effect has engaged in extensive explorations into how local groups of girls can form supportive global networks. I believe their ultimate goal of liberating young girls in developing nations is a huge goal, one which will take a long time, and a lot of collaborative efforts, to achieve. In saying that, I think these initial projects that Girl Effect has set up are fabulous steps in the right direction. I initially came across their work as I was looking through frog design’s work and collaborations. Frog spent a month in Nairobi working with Girl Effect, using research planning as a way of bringing local girls into the design process and brainstorming how communication and problem solving could be forged in the local communities. This research led to further explorations into how these local girl groups could form a global network through limited mobile technologies, which greatly ties into Girl Effect’s GEM project and “Girls Network”. I think it’s incredibly important for organisations like Girl Effect to collaborate with companies who work in global design and strategy such as frog, as this provides such a greater level of exposure and opportunity for growth.
I took interest in Girl Effect and their projects as they have particular relevance to my exploration into gender equality issues. While my own research and practice will be focused on gender equality issues in Australia and within young adults, I found Girl Effect and frog design’s innovative research to be a helpful insight into successful ethnographic and integrated research methods.
frog. 2016. Nike Foundation / Girl Effect 100 Million Girls. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.frogdesign.com/portfolio/nike-foundation-girl-effect-100-million-girls.html. [Accessed 20 August 2016].
Girl Effect. 2016. Our purpose – Girl Effect. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.girleffect.org/our-purpose/. [Accessed 20 August 2016].
Madeleine Lumley Prince