Last week Philanthropy University and GirlSPARKS, who co-designed our popular Girl Centered Design course, held its first series of regional webinars.

The webinars aimed to introduce the course and its content to interested learners, as well as provide previous learners with a recap on key themes from the online course.

Powered by Mercy Corps, GirlSPARKS is a global training initiative working with organisations and individuals to deliver more effective programming for adolescent girls through an experiential and tailored Girl-Centred Design approach. The GirlSPARKS Girl-Centred Design approach provides the skills, knowledge and tools for practitioners to place adolescent girls at the center of program design and implementation. These are captured in the free introduction course on Girl Centred Design by Philanthropy University.

The webinars began with an overview of the principles of Girl Centred Design, with GirlSPARKS talking participants through their four step approach: Why girls; Find her; Listen to her; and Design with her.

Why focus on girls?

The statistics surrounding girls’ opportunities are sobering; for instance:

  • over 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday (UNICEF, 2014);
  • 63 million girls (aged 5 to 15) are out of school (Global Partnership for Education, 2015); and
  • 200 million women and girls have undergone Female Genital Mutilation.

Similarly the data for investing in girls is hard to ignore. For every extra year in primary school a girls’ income increases between 10-20 percent. When a girl receives at least seven years of education, she marries four years later.

The takeaway? Girls have fundamental human rights, and when we invest in girls their community is better for it. Yet, despite this, many development interventions do not focus on girls.

Placing girls voices at the heart of work

During the webinars participants learned about the value and methods that enable us to hear girls’ voices, to better understand the world from their perspective. We talked through the need to create safe spaces for consulting with girls and explored how to identify the most marginalized girls through data collection tools.

At the heart of this discussion was the idea that girls have the answers to the challenges that face them and their communities.To build successful programs, we first need to position girls as experts of their own lived experiences. Girl Centred Design provides a framework for doing this.

Regional context

In total we ran four webinars: one based per region, covering Asia, the Americas, Africa and Latin America. Each session presented a regional case study showcasing a real example of girl-led design in action. The Asia Pacific session focused on the work being done in Nepal to support the education of marginalised girls within the district of Kailali. Here, 36 percent of girls aged 10-14 do not transition from primary to secondary school and almost half of the girls (48 percent) get married by the age of 18.

Other case studies featured work being done in Nigeria, Colombia and Yemen, respectively.

Participants had a chance to ask questions and a facilitated discussion was held to further explore the challenges and learnings from girl centered programming from a regional context.

Positive feedback from participants

These webinars were a first attempt at bringing bite-sized content to interested learners. Participant came from across the globe, including Kenya, Nigeria, Yemen, India, Brazil and the USA. Out of those that left feedback, all said that the webinars were useful. One participant said, “It was helpful to understand how girl centered design works practically.”

As an observer, it was great to see so many advocates for girls come together in one place. More webinars are planned for later this year, which will hopefully inspire more local organizations to think about girl programming within their work.

Interested in learning more about Girl Centered Design? Sign up to our free course now.

July 16, 2018


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