This October, adolescent girls in India were offered a new avenue to ‘go forth and shine’. Chhaa Jaa, an online content-driven programme by the global NGO Girl Effect, was launched to educate and inform adolescent girls with the right skills and confidence to navigate their teenage years and reach their potential.
Its girl-centric messages are delivered through videos that are distributed on social-media platforms, “Or wherever the girls already are, or are likely to be in future,” says Girl Effect CEO, Jessica Posner Odede.
Chhaa Jaa videos are about four to eight minutes long. They feature young actors that common Indian girls can identify with, and touch upon topics like sexual and reproductive health, negotiating with parents about choices for their education, or preparing to find a first job.
Girl Effect’s lead in India, Kanishk Kabiraj, says: “Despite better access to education, employment and health opportunities than ever before, girls still experience massive societal barriers and expectations that limit their potential. Chhaa Jaa speaks to them in a language they understand about the reality of their choices and constraints.”
Kanishk’s team collected date from 9470 girls across India in two different studies. The first one was an online digital ethnography of 5798 girls completed in July 2018. In this study, they analysed public social media data and search data of girls in big cities in the Hindi belt like Jaipur, Kanpur, Lucknow, Agra, Patna, and so on.
The second study of 3672 girls, centred in Jaipur and Lucknow, formed the baseline study in May 2019. These studies gave the NGO extensive information about the framework that Indian girls live in, and what kind of information they made to make better choices. “We want Chhaa Jaa to be the go-to for girls as they make decisions that will define their own futures,” says Kanishk.
For instance, from their data, they found that in Jaipur only about 28 percent girls owned their own mobile device whereas the figure was closer to 44 percent in Lucknow. Others mostly share their phones with their parents and/or their siblings, and boys are 1.5 times more likely to own a phone.
“Even so, girls are accessing the internet at a much faster rate,” says Jessica. “They may not own phones but they are innovative and ingenious when it comes to finding ways to access the internet. They have a very sophisticated, secret eco-system.”
Girl Effect was founded by Nike in 2004. It went independent three years ago and is active in over 50 countries, using innovative behaviour change science to create content that is entertaining, informative and relevant to their everyday lives.
Its India arm has been funded in part by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), which is one of the largest donors globally focused on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and the Vodafone Foundation, which is a significant Girl Effect partner to drive innovation and empower young people through mobile.
The programme aims to reach out to one of the world’s youngest populations, and to be part of their crucial years in a positive way: by helping build up girls’ sense of self, her identity and her ability to ask questions.
First published in eShe’s November 2019 issue
Syndicated to CNBCTV18