The Vanguard Factor
EMpower—The Emerging Markets Foundation: COVID In Her Voice: A Girl-Led-and-Centred Approach
Concurrent Session
September 23, 2021 | 12:00 pm | Concurrent Sessions I: 2 of 6

What happens when 25 girl leaders become researchers and set out to understand the real-time impact of COVID-19 on their peers?

The Emerging Markets Foundation facilitated unique participatory research earlier this year in India, with support from the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. EMpower trained 25 girl leaders from cities across India to interview 150 other girls in their communities on how the pandemic had affected their daily lives, covering topics like their access to school and work, mental and physical health care, ability to move around, and pressures and burdens at home. The girl leaders played a large role in the research: designing the questionnaire, defining selection criteria, and analysing the results.  They also made recommendations—based on these findings—on action steps that governments and funders can take.

The findings from the research survey are enlightening, and this session will look at how gender was the cross-cutting theme throughout, affecting the girls’ education, economic well-being, health, and safety. The girls report that their lives have been negatively impacted in many ways, with the crisis exacerbating pre-existing inequities. Pressure to marry early, increased chores, depression, and limited access to education and work opportunities are among the major challenges they face. The girl and girl leader recommendations on how best to support them are also extremely valuable as the global community plans its response and begins to rebuild.

 Equally as significant as the findings themselves is the approach taken, putting the research largely in the hands of the girls and shifting the center of power. We believe girls are the experts on their own lives and are best placed to advise on how to ensure a more inclusive recovery post pandemic. By listening to girls, centering their voices, entrusting them with decision-making, and investing in them, we can begin to undo deep-rooted inequities.

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