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EMpower webinar highlights innovative girl-focused programming in Africa and spotlights new report findings and recommendations

Posted 09 July 2020 in EMpower News, Grantee Partner News   |   Share

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On 25 June, EMpower led a webinar featuring grantee partners and shared the report findings from ‘A Window of Opportunity: Programming With and For Very Young Adolescent Girls’. More than 800 people registered to join the webinar hosted by IBP Network and a live poll of participants revealed that the audience consisted of 21% youth leaders, 37% practitioners, 25% researchers, 23% funders, and 27% implementing partners. We are so grateful for the diverse turnout!

A key objective of the webinar was to highlight the value of increasing the opportunities available for very young adolescent girls, and to spotlight the grassroots organizations that are already leading the way in innovative VYAG programming.The webinar panelists included:

  • Favour Chukwuoglum, Girls Voices Initiative, Nigeria
  • Hafsah Sey Sumani, Head of Programmes & Policy, Norsaac, Tamale, Ghana
  • Rafia Mohammed, Program Participant, Norsaac, Tamale, Ghana
  • Kristen Woolf, Vice President of Programs, EMpower, London, England
  • Jennifer Catino, Project Lead, Barcelona, Spain
  • Emily Battistini, Research Lead, New York, USA


Some highlights of the webinar include:

- Kristen Woolf sharing the importance of focusing on girls needs as disparities are exacerbated because of COVID-19.

- Co-moderator Favour spoke passionately about the importance of focusing programs and spoke about how when she was younger, she didn’t have spaces for girls until she was 15 that once involved in girl-focused programs, it changed her life. Today, Favour mentors very young adolescent girls, recognizing the transformative power of this time.

- Hafsah Sey Sumani, Head of Programmes & Policy, Norsaac in Ghana spoke about the organization’s history of working with very young adolescent girls in programming.

- The research leads of the report, Jennifer Catino and Emily Battistini, introduced the 6 key findings from the report:

  1. Local grassroots organizations are doing innovative, targeted work with VYA to a much greater degree than previously realized
  2. Meaningful involvement of VYA girls in all aspects of the programming is essential to success.
  3. Families and communities need to be engaged, even when this is not easy.
  4. Programming should be dynamic, and evolve in response to the changing needs and interests of girls.
  5. Intentional measures to safeguard girls are critical to program success.
  6. Strong links between grassroots and global VYA efforts would help propel the field of VYA girl programming and research forward.

The recommendations of the report were shown in practice by the stories from participants who emphasized that community knowledge needs to be shared, documented, evaluated, and financed so that it can be utilized better and more widely. Other recommendations for strengthening girl-focused work include:

- Link practitioners within and across regions by creating vibrant communities of practice where organizations from the Global South and the Global North can share, exchange and troubleshoot together.

- Facilitate research-practice partnerships that enable grassroots organizations to evaluate their programs and strengthen related capacities.

- Develop platforms to share the experiences and expertise of local organizations, and assist others in addressing chronic challenges associated with girl-centered programming.

- Act as a catalyst, champion and amplifier of work with VYA girls by encouraging greater investment in this population, raising the profile of innovative programming, and demonstrating the impact of more flexible and sustainable grant-making approaches.

Thank you to all the participants that joined the webinar, including our colleagues, partner organizations, and young people who took the time out to join us for this conversation. A special thanks to the amazing leaders from NORSAAC and Girls Voices Initiatives for sharing the innovative girls work they carry out. It is with much gratitude that we thank IBP for hosting the webinar and contributing to amplify the dialogue on very young adolescent girls. We hope the report and webinar helps open the space for greater strategic funding and the prioritization of programming for very young adolescent girls.

Watch the full webinar HERE.

Learn more about Norsaac HERE.

Learn more about Girls Voices Initiative HERE.

Learn more about IBP Network HERE.

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