Everything we do at Girl Effect starts from the perspective of the girl – 2019 was no different.

Adolescence is a crucial moment in a girl’s life as she starts to face more choices that affect her future. From Africa to Asia, our inspiring youth brands have connected millions of adolescent girls around the world with the information and support they need to make choices about their health, education and finances.

We use our unique understanding of a girls’ needs to design content that builds up her sense of identity and self-belief to power her to act. It takes time for social norms to change: years, or even decades. But in the meantime, girls face choices every day, choices that affect her future well-being, as well as the next generation of girls. This is where we come in. We believe in a world where no limits are set on what a girl can achieve.

The world has changed immensely in the 15 years since Girl Effect was born, and technology now puts unprecedented power in girls’ hands. As we come to the end of 2019 and ready ourselves to enter a new decade, it’s our hope that technology can be harnessed to do good and expedite change, allowing us to reach so many more girls than was possible when we first began. In 2020 and beyond, with ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is time to be investing in her.

A few of Girl Effect’s highlights in 2019…

1. The year kicked off with a big welcome to our CEO Jessica Posner Odede. 

Jessica’s journey to Girl Effect started after co-founding Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) in Kenya to catalyse systemic transformation in urban slums. Jess also spoke to UN Dispatch’s Global Dispatches podcast about the evolution of “the girl effect” as driving force in international development, talks to Vodafone’s Gigalife about the power of technology to generate behavioural shifts, and writes for Project Syndicate on the need to invest in tech-based interventions that provide safe, engaging and informative content for girls and women.

“The girls that we want to empower at Girl Effect aren’t distant for me – they’re my sister-in-law, my friends, the community that I’ve been a part of.”

2. Girl Effect launched youth brands in two new geographies –  India and Tanzania!

Chhaa Jaa (Go Forth and Shine) is a digital brand aimed at empowering adolescent girls in India as they make choices about their future – from accessing information about sexual and reproductive health, to negotiating with parents about choices for their education, or preparing to find a first job. Since Chhaa Jaa’s launch, supported by Vodafone Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), over 250,000 girls and young women (13-24 years old) have engaged with our content across Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Tujibebe (Let’s lift ourselves up, together!) is our new Tanzanian mobile-based brand uniting young people and equipping girls as they navigate adolescence – from finishing their education or setting up their own small business, to accessing a health service. Since launching with the support of Vodafone Foundation, Tujibebe’s national IVR (Interactive Voice Response) phone line free to access by Vodacom users has received over 500,000 calls.

3. From Women Deliver to Web Summit: discussing change for adolescent girls at world events

At Women Deliver 2019, the world’s largest conference on gender equality, we discussed the potential of mobile technology to help unlock important change for girls around the globe. Along with our partners Nutrition InternationalGavi and DFAT, we showcased how our brands Springster and Zathu, and TEGA (our girl-led digital insights tool), are empowering girls to make positive choices about their health, education, and economic future.

At Web Summit in Lisbon, the biggest annual tech conference, our head of product Jonathan McKay joined a panel alongside Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies, to discuss the gender data divide and the power of technology to drive change in the world.

4. Exciting new partners we joined forces with in 2019

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance: Together with Gavi and the Government of Rwanda, we broadened our current partnership and launched a 13-month programme to use Ni Nyampinga to increase the uptake of life-saving vaccines in the country.

KaiOS Technologies: We partnered with KaiOS Technologies, the light operating system for smart feature phones. Together, we’re working to reach more girls with curated content that can improve their lives.

Viamo: Our IVR implementing partner in Tanzania, hosting Tujibebe’s on-demand audio content on its 3-2-1 service, exclusive to Vodacom.

UNICEF: Together with UNICEF we helped tackle the barriers girls face in completing secondary education in Rwanda.

Women Deliver: Our research partnership, funded by Global Affairs Canada, is focused on engaging youth as researchers and advocates around youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Rwanda, India and Malawi through TEGA.

5. Towards a digital future for girls in Bangladesh

Research by TEGA, our girl-led research solution, uncovered new insights to help a consortia of NGOs – including BRAC BIED, CARE Bangladesh, iSocial, Nutrition International, Population Council and UNFPA –  to truly understand what it is like to be a girl in Bangladesh. Our 48 brilliant Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGAs) conducted more than 2,000 interviews with their peers to shape programming on sexual harassment, nutrition, economic empowerment, digital financial services and sexual and reproductive health. This work wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Watch the video.

6. Visit of the year: Malala at Girl Effect Ethiopia

Every visitor to Girl Effect offices around the world is welcomed with open arms. The most exciting visit we had in 2019 was when none other than Malala Yousafzai visited Girl Effect Ethiopia, to discuss girls’ education and the role Yegna, our multi-platform youth brand, plays in delivering change with girls in Ethiopia. Malala was introduced to how Yegna encourages positive behaviour change with girls in Ethiopia by tackling real-life challenges through stories, music, mini-media clubs in schools and a brand-new nationwide TV drama

A huge thank you to all partners and collaborators who helped make our work possible in 2019. Happy New Year!