International day of the girl: 6 inspiring stories of co-creation

At Here I Am, we consider ourselves fortunate to collaborate on many of our projects with inspirational Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW). They bring fresh perspectives and offer valuable critiques that ultimately shape and enhance the quality and relevance of our initiatives.

In honour of International Day of the Girl, we've asked some members of our team to reflect on how this participatory approach has enabled the projects they've worked on to achieve greater success, accessibility, and impact.

Day of the girl graphic

Supporting a cohort of young women to lead a groundbreaking project, with Malala Fund

Kate Greenstock, Design Director

We are currently embarking on an incredibly exciting project in collaboration with the Malala Fund, which supports Malala’s commitment to "work with girls in all their diversity to co-create and launch an agenda for quality, gender-equal education." The project is spearheaded by three inspiring young female leaders from Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Nigeria, and will receive additional support from a growing number of girls and young women. I’m excited to be part of the team and look forward to supporting them on their ambitious project plan and growing from our shared experience.

A pioneering ‘Girl Network’ model in Tanzania, with Girl Effect

Justine Derouet, Senior Designer & Diana Wambui, Junior Designer

Last year, we worked closely with six Tanzanian girls to co-create and pilot a 'Girl Network' model in Tanzania. This model aimed to enable girls with limited access to media or digital channels to engage with Girl Effect's local radio show, 'Tujibebe'.

Over a period of nine months, the girls developed a vision and concepts for a mobile app that would empower other AGYW to become 'Champions' within their communities, equipping them with the support, information, and confidence needed to facilitate engaging and impactful sessions with less-connected girls. Their insights and ideas guided the entire process, ensuring that the solution they created would be valuable and relevant for future 'Champions'. Working with this talented cohort taught us valuable lessons about meaningful co-creation with girls and provided them with the opportunity to learn about the Human-Centred Design process, enabling them to make a positive impact in their community.

Amplifying women’s voices in Sudan, with CARE International

Chance Mukamusoni, Research & Delivery Manager

In partnership with CARE, Here I Am worked with a group of talented young Sudanese women based in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to conduct a Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) of the impact of the civil war, using Here I Am’s research platform, Fatima.

Utilising Fatima to amplify the voices of young women was a highlight for me in this project. I was inspired by the interviewers’ patience, sensitivity, and flexibility throughout the process. Being Sudanese women themselves, they were advocates for the rights of their fellow Sudanese women. They truly empathised with the women they interviewed and were eager to hear their voices and messages. The research contributed to a report from CARE, supporting rapid intervention in Sudan. There was a sense that the interviewers felt their involvement in the project could be part of a larger solution for the people of Sudan.

Prioritising feedback of female refugees, with UNHCR

Flynne Rushton, Delivery Manager

In July, I supported a week-long Digital Gender Inclusion and Innovation Bootcamp, delivered by Here I Am on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Twelve African and Middle Eastern refugee-led and community-based organisations participated remotely in the bootcamp. For one of the sessions, they invited a small group of female refugees, with whom they were already collaborating, to join as advisors and provide feedback on the ‘To Be Journey Maps’ they had developed as part of the bootcamp. These maps documented the organisations’ ideas for an improved user experience, and the real-time feedback enabled participants to further refine and improve their maps ahead of a pitch session on the final day of the bootcamp.

Designing a fundraising product that is for young people, by young people, with Plan International

Leah McLaren, Senior Delivery Manager

In our latest project with Plan International, we stepped out of our comfort zone to conceptualise and bring to life a brand-new fundraising product aimed at attracting a new donor base. Throughout the project, we engaged with 56 Millennials and Gen Z individuals, gathering their input from discovery and concept testing to prototype feedback and the final fundraising product.

As a brand-new audience for Plan, it was crucial to establish a solid and foundational understanding of their donation habits, perspectives on the charity sector, digital behaviours, barriers, and motivators. The end result has been a robust, innovative, and thoroughly tested digital donor journey, fundraising campaign, and product. Without their input, we would not have gained a true understanding of what motivates this audience, what delights them, and, ultimately, what converts them into long-term donors.

A brand new approach to research, built by marginalised young women, with Girl Effect

Laura Scanlon, CEO

The first ever Global South digital solution I worked on was TEGA (Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors) for Girl Effect. This was in 2014, in Northern Nigeria - just as the Chibok girls had been kidnapped - a dangerous place to be a girl. The only way we could design a safe product was to tightly collaborate with girls and young women. Together, we rigorously unearthed every single risk, many of which included the prevalent threat of Boko Haram, and then confronted each individual risk not as an insurmountable barrier but as a design challenge. The solutions we created together are - still to this day - groundbreaking innovations. That journey was the most creative experience of my working life, and shaped my belief in the inherent creative power that exists within girls and young women around the world.

Watch this space for more direct input from project co-creators in future Here I Am blogs! #IDOTG2023

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