Designing a new model to reach and support the least connected girl

Girl EffectGirl Champion

Girl Effect is an international non-profit whose mission is to inspire and equip girls to make life-changing choices about their health, learning and livelihood.


Based on years of experience working with and for girls, Girl Effect’s Theory of Change focuses on how adolescents make decisions and the barriers hold them back. Some are external barriers - gender norms, the perceptions of her family and her friends, myths and misinformation she receives on social media. Others are internal barriers - her own concept of who she is— what she is capable of. Within this understanding, peer networks and support are core components to influence a girls’ behaviour.

The role of a Girl Champion is defined by Girl Effect as a peer engager, facilitating their own and their peers’ journeys by becoming a catalyst for the brand. Girl Effect therefore sees Girl Champions as the gateway to reaching and engaging wider Girl Networks, those with less access to mobile and digital, ensuring girls with or without phones can be reached, engaged and impacted.

Girl Effect partnered with Here I Am to design and pilot a Girl Network model and its component tools and systems, in order to convene and facilitate conversation and engagement with GE content among girls with less access to media or digital channels.


Marginalised people, even the hardest to reach such as vulnerable girls and young women, are becoming easier to reach as mobile and internet penetration continues to increase. As a result, the HCD process no longer needs to be a single smash-and-grab workshop. Today it can happen frequently and inexpensively via SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, phone calls, and even in a group where one friend shares their smartphone with the others.

With this brand new, unprecedented line of communication comes the opportunity to change the way we engage, and most importantly, to do it respectfully and meaningfully.

We saw this project as an opportunity to set the new standard of digital co-creation with marginalised girls using a hybrid of technologies, resulting in a brand new approach to initiating and sustaining young person, peer-led networks. Our goal was to establish a sector leading model to be replicated for future projects, reinforcing Girl Effect’s reputation as the leading voice on how to work for and with marginalised girls.

Our approach

Given the heightened levels of restrictions and risks surrounding marginalised adolescent girls, it was imperative we placed them, and their safety at the heart of this project, and we took the time to understand how this project journey will feel from their perspective, ensuring it’s respectful, meaningful and results in an approach that seamlessly and meaningfully fits into their life.

We built a network of girls to co-create with throughout the process called Girl Champion Creators (a name approved by the girls!). Our role was to create an environment for the Girl Champion Creators (GCCs) to flourish confidently and creatively. At project kick-off we spent time with the GCCs to ascertain their needs, desires and preferences for participation. This dictated how, when, where we met, and what we did when we came together.

Over a period of 9 months, we facilitated ideation, co-creation, user testing and feedback mechanisms, via digital channels that are most suitable to them including WhatsApp, Group Zoom sessions and homework tasks involving brainstorming and validation with nearby peers. The insights and ideas from the GCCs dictated the entire process and solution.

The solution

The solution is Champion - an app that can support young women to become ‘Champions’ within their community - equipping them with the support, information and confidence they need to prepare and facilitate engaging and impactful sessions with less connected girls.

Designing a new model to reach and support the least connected girl

What’s next?

Following user testing in Tanzania and Ethiopia, we are now further improving the product, with a go live planned for Q4 2023.

Girl Effect feedback

Working with Here I Am is truly like working with your own team. They commit so fully to the work, are brought into the strategy, and in every situation add so much value in terms of expertise, inspiration and leadership. You can fully trust that the work is in good hands when working with Here I Am. In my personal experience, there are very few companies I’ve worked with that have continually gone above and beyond the brief the way Here I Am does. They consistently exceed expectations.

Karina Michel, Head of Create, Girl Effect

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