Generation Equality: Girl Effect launches new study to understand the realities of the gender digital divide among adolescents

Girl Effect, UNICEF and Vodafone Americas Foundation are launching a new global study into adolescent girls’ demand for, access to and use of mobile and digital technology. We are calling for additional partners and investment to further scale this research and explore how to build sustainable data platforms, to provide ongoing insights into the gender digital divide among youth. This announcement is part of a collective commitment to Generation Equality, made at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris.


The study, Girls & Mobile 2.0, will build on Girl Effect’s first-of-its-kind global study from 2018 into girls' access to and use of mobile. Launching in 2021, it will be conducted across low- and middle-income countries, combining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. It aims to build a deeper understanding of the gender digital divide in a Covid-19 world, including the impact of the online world on girls' sense of self-esteem and mental wellbeing.


The study will help bridge the gender data gap by providing unique insights that can inform the design of impactful digital products, services and solutions for, with and by girls.


Jessica Posner Odede, CEO of Girl Effect, said: “The need for accurate data to understand girls' lives has never been more urgent than it is now. These insights must inform how we evolve digital solutions to meet girls’ changing needs. We need to understand the reality of girls now, so we are all primed and able to respond.”


Patty Alleman, Senior Advisor, UNICEF, said: “Girls and young women are blazing a trail in tech equity - for themselves and their generation - but we must collectively amplify and support their promising innovation pipeline including digital literacy content, platforms for mentoring and peer support, digital job sourcing, support to young women entrepreneurs and start-up founders, to truly live an inclusive digital and innovation revolution.”


June Sugiyama, Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation, said: “As a Foundation, we whole-heartedly believe that by investing in the combination of women and technology, we are investing in the ability to make a true global impact. Our partnership with Girl Effect builds on our work supporting previous studies, including girls and their readiness for leadership, among others - and will drive a deeper understanding around the gender digital divide, which crucial in order to drive real and impactful change."


As well as providing actionable recommendations when designing digital solutions with girls, the study also aims to produce post-pandemic baseline data on a girl’s digital world. The initial findings from the study are expected by mid-2022.

Generation Equality Forum


Closing the data gap through girl-led research


The challenges adolescent girls face are often under-reported or described on their behalf, meaning there are voids in our knowledge and understanding of their lives. Without the inclusion of girls’ perspectives, solutions designed to support them aren’t as effective as they could be. 


The study aims to fill some of the gender data gap by combining rich quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to provide not just the data about adolescent girls, but the stories too.


This includes using Girl Effect’s unique digital-based research tool, which was created to bridge the gender data gap. Girl Effect trains young women to be qualified market researchers, who collect real-time insights into the lives of their peers. The researchers are given a phone and collect data through an app, including qualitative data through video, photo and audio capabilities, in addition to quantitative data capture and digital consent features. 


This methodology unlocks the open and honest conversations which would otherwise be lost or not included in traditional research and from a demographic that is notoriously hard to reach. 


Shweta, 19, one of Girl Effect’s girl-researchers in India said: “It is important to involve young people as they understand their problems like no one else and have ideas for how to solve them. They are curious and confident and capable of doing anything”.


Bridging the gender digital divide


Technology and innovation are advancing so quickly that what is true today is soon outdated. This is why we must have an ongoing conversation with girls to collect accurate and close to real-time insights into their lives. 


As societies look to build back better, with a focus on a more digitally equitable world, we need to rebuild with girls. The Girls & Mobile 2.0 study is the first step in understanding the reality of girls’ digital worlds, and will be the catalyst for more regular, close to real-time monitoring of the when, where and how girls are connecting and the challenges and opportunities they face. 


These insights must inform how we respond and co-create the solutions girls want and need, to close the gender data gap and bridge the gender digital divide. 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about the study or partnering with us on this work, please contact marcomms@girleffect.org.


This is part of a wider commitment to Generation Equality on "Girls and Young Women-Designed Learning Solutions Fit for Their Digital World", made alongside Chloé, Clé de Peu Beauté, Girl Effect, Microsoft, Pandora, UNICEF, Unilever Dove, Vodafone Americas Foundation. 

 

About Girl Effect

Girl Effect is an international non-profit that builds media that girls want, trust and need - from chatbots to chatshows and TV dramas to tech. Reaching millions of girls in 20 countries across Africa and Asia, Girl Effect creates content that helps girls make choices and changes in their lives during the critical years of adolescence. By igniting their confidence to act differently at a time that can define their future, every girl can choose to be in control of her body, her health, her learning and livelihood. 


Visit www.girleffect.org or follow @GirlEffect on social media.


About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. Follow UNICEF on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

 

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