for Social Impact
Nike Foundation/ Girl Effect
frog teamed up with Girl Effect and the Nike Foundation to explore the nature and value of digital connections for young women living in poverty.
Right now, whole communities are squandering at least half of their human potential. Some 250 million adolescent girls (ages 10-19) live in poverty in the developing world, which means they exist on less than $2 a day. For these young women, every day can be a struggle to survive and fulfill basic needs. Several obstacles threaten to keep them in the vicious cycle of poverty: They are pulled out of school to work. They are married at extraordinarily young ages. They are denied information about their own reproductive health.
“The poorest, least developed countries tend to have the largest shares of young people in their populations, and it is the girls and young women who face the greatest disadvantages,” says the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Neglecting to support girls has a huge impact on local communities and global economies. For this reason, girls who are given the tools to effect change can become active citizens, entrepreneurs, and leading voices in their communities. Nike Foundation CEO Maria Eitel, whose “League of Extraordinary Women” was recently profiled in a Fast Company cover story, summarized the issue: a girl transformed by education and meaningful work is “more likely to seek health care, avoid HIV infection, and delay pregnancy…Girls grow into women who are more likely to go
to political meetings and organize on behalf of their community.”
Empowering Girls to Change Their World
Girl Effect, a nonprofit collaborative movement by various organizations (including the Nike Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls), works to alleviate poverty by investing in girls. It fundraises through the GlobalGiving Foundation to support innovative projects around the world.
frog teamed up with Girl Effect to explore the value of digital technologies in improving the lives of girls in three of the world’s largest urban slums: the Kibera, Baba Dogo, and Eastlands districts of Nairobi, Kenya. Our initial hypothesis was that girls in these locations were physically isolated from one another. Digital technologies could alleviate the isolation and vastly increase the impact of the effort by creating a virtual network of support, allowing the girls to exchange knowledge and identify services that previously would have been out of reach. In order to validate this hypothesis, we needed to understand the world of these girls: how they communicate with each other now, what their needs are, their current resources, and their biggest challenges.
"I've been so happy since starting this program of exploring. I feel more confident than the time I (first) came—I was too shy. Now I'm meeting other girls—I am happy."
“Thanks to explorer trainers for showing me the good foundation of my life. Since that day my life has changed completely.”
Combining Training With Participatory R&D
To get to the root of this design challenge, a research team from frog spent a month in Nairobi, trying to better understand the lives of impoverished young women and to see the world from their perspectives. The team held participatory events and interviewed local experts on girl- and youth-focused issues, such as Well Told Story and TEDxKibera. They also spent time with girl groups, such as Binti Pamoja and Kuweni Serious, to observe how girls communicate with one another, family members and role models.
frog conducted its on-the-ground research as “Explorer Training.” As part of this training, frog designers taught young women how to research and understand their own lives and connect with the people around them. This included the girls becoming design researchers themselves, by training and interviewing others and then sharing what they’d learned through oral storytelling, sketching, performing skits and creating radio shows.
A key insight from the research was that the girls lacked a safe forum in local communities and institutions to get answers to the important questions in their lives. With this insight in mind, frog and the Nairobi girls moved into the ideation phase, brainstorming ways that the Nairobi girls could better communicate and solve problems in their local community through both analog and digital means. To complement these brainstorming sessions, the team
organized a global “design jam” across eight frog studios, from which the team gleaned even more inspiration and potential solutions. Research and ideation continued in parallel, as frog and the girls incorporated the best ideas into a game called “Get Girls Talking.” Co-designed with the girls and built over a four-week period, the game modeled possible digital and in-person interactions that could happen among local girls groups, working together collectively to aid a girl in need. Because most of the girls in Nairobi had little to no regular access to modern technologies, such as a computer with Internet access, the game blended in-person group collaboration and SMS-based communication via mobile phones that were owned by a few of the girls.
Getting Girls Involved Globally
The insight that frog gathered from this research lead to a second phase in which the girls co-designed, along with frog and local tech experts, and built their own local girl communities, which could then be networked together globally via mobile technologies.
frog is now working with Girl Effect, the Nike Foundation, development partners, and young women worldwide to prototype a girl-led approach to local community creation. By helping girls to understand their powerful role as actors—even designers and leaders—in their own lives and communities, we can harness their potential and fight poverty.