The Covid-19 pandemic has hit women and girls hard, they are facing risks beyond the threat of Covid-19 itself. These effects include a heightened risk of gender based violence, economic stress and also a lack of access to healthcare and sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services. From the outset of the crisis there has been a need for accurate data to understand girls' lives and needs.
Over the last two months, the TEGA project from Girl Effect has been listening to girls’ experiences, challenges and needs in response to Covid-19. We are now delighted to share Hear Her Voice – a digital diaries research project, giving 25 girls in five countries a platform to report on their experiences of life in lockdown, in their own words. Without the inclusion of girls’ perspectives, solutions designed to support them aren’t as effective as they could be so we now need to share these findings as widely as possible.
‘If corona doesn’t kill us, hunger will.’ - Jannat, 19, Bangladesh
‘We are in touch with friends and talk to each other through online chat, WhatsApp calls or normal calls but still we feel the loneliness as there are many things which we want to share... which we are unable to.’ - Shiyona, 20, India
‘Since the outbreak, we have lost many things... The semester got disrupted. I do not know what things will be like. I do not see a future.’ - Merci, 24, Malawi
There is a risk that hard-won gains for girls slip backwards as a result of the pandemic, with a surge in gender based violence, teen pregnancies and restricted freedoms. Yet there is a real lack of data and understanding about girls’ experiences of living through the pandemic. We rarely hear about girls’ lives from the perspective of girls themselves - especially those living in low and middle income countries.
Hear Her Voice is aiming to overcome this and bring girls’ voices into the conversation. Our digital researchers - Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGAs) - in India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Malawi and the U.S. would in normal circumstances be out conducting qualitative interview research in their communities. Instead, they have turned the cameras on themselves to create weekly digital diaries answering co-created questions that are submitted via mobile phones through our bespoke TEGA app.
We're sharing data and insights from this project to make sure organisations working with girls understand girls’ experiences of life in lockdown - both good and bad - so that they can design for their short and long term needs. In order to spread their stories as widely as possible we are looking for networks and platform to share this data as we would love to work together to continue to amplify the voices of the girls around the world and turn these voices into action
The Hear Her Voice site is updated on a weekly basis with new video clips, articles, and films, telling the human-stories behind the headlines during this pandemic. Please see the introductory video here and visit the microsite to find out more.
“This task has made the lockdown go by easily for me. It feels like there’s someone to listen to us and what we have to say” (Rashmi, 20 Jaipur)