Girl Determined

Girl Determined is a leadership project designed to assist girls ages 12-17 to avoid the pitfalls of trafficking, dangerous labor and other forms of violence, by facilitating girls' recognition of their personal and group potential. Because of our belief in girls as potential change-agents in their households, communities and nations, our program aims to increase girls' ability to make strategic life-decisions, generate choices and exercise bargaining power. This real empowerment creates opportunities for girls to better cope with their difficulties, envision alternatives and take leadership into their own hands. The underlying premise of Girl Determined work is that educating, connecti...
Aug 3, 2015

Data! Data! Data! What is our impact?

Girl Determined participants having fun- together.
Girl Determined participants having fun- together.

Greetings friends and supporters,

I am so pleased to be able to report on the impact that your contributions are having in the lives of over 2000 adolescent girls across 41 communities in six states of Myanmar.   Often in these updates I like to share an individual girl’s story to illuminate the way that Girl Determined has worked together with her to improve her life. However, today I want to share a data-driven story of change. Bear with me. I am a bit of a wonk, but more importantly, we want you to know how Girl Determined develops and improves programming based on our findings and evidence.

You may know that Girl Determined's core program, Circles, is a two-year, after-school leadership program for girls aged 12-17.  Of course, some of the girls are not in school, so for them it is an outside-of-the-home or after-work activity.  We have crafted, tested and revised a weekly, activity-based curriculum, that participating girls tell us is fun, interesting, helpful, inspiring and engenders confidence and a strengthened belief in one's ability to shape her future. 

As we have done in past years we surveyed some of the participating girls at the beginning of the school year and at the close of the school year to understand the impact of the weekly Circles program. Where are we seeing the most progress? In what ways is the curriculum weak? Are they any trends that we did not expect?

We conducted a baseline last year in June and July and end-line survey this year in February and March for 300 of the same adolescent girl participants across the country.  Conducting such a survey is no small feat as our research team has to carry heavy bags of questionnaires by foot, bicycle, motorbike, bus and car before entering the data in the office computers. Because girls in different areas speak different local languages we also need to adapt the survey for reliable results.

Using a Salesforce database, a new tool to us, we were able to analyze the data.  Below is a summary of each of the four key sections of the survey and what we found. The girls included in the survey were all entering into the first year of their Circles.

Leadership

This section of the survey relates both directly to the curriculum topics as well as to the program’s process work including comfort with self-disclosure and ability to speak in a groups. The section includes scale questions that have girls answer from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’ according to their impressions of statements including;

  • I know what I am good at.
  • I have unique skills and talents.
  • I can stand up for myself if I disagree with friends.

Leadership Score - 46% positive change

As these changes in girls’ self-perception and attitudes are fundamental to a girl’s ability to exercise control over her life choices, regardless of how limited those choices may be, they represent the most important aspect of our program. These are transformational and foundational changes in girls’ worlds.

The 46% increase means, when pulled together, and each girl’s individual baseline and end-line compared, we found that 46% of the girls underwent real positive change in her personal leadership and self-perception. Girls’ baseline and end-line were compared and 46% of girls reported positive changes on more than half of the leadership-oriented questions and statements.

Gender-based Violence

Like the Leadership section, girls are asked to respond with the level of agreement to statements, including the following.

  • A woman has the right to say no if someone tries to touch her or have sex with her when she doesn’t want them to.
  • Sometimes women need to tolerate violence to keep the family together.
  • Wealthier people don’t have a problem with violence against women.
  • Do you know - I know of a place or person in my community where I can go to report violence or abuse of a girl or women.

Gender-based Violence - 58% positive change

Of the four key areas of the survey we saw the greatest shift in perception and knowledge around gender-based violence. 58% of the girls showed tangible positive change in their views about girls’ and women’s rights to safety and security and, happily, girls now know that the can come to us to report abuse or in search of a safe place. As we continue to build out safety planning and comprehensive sexuality education modules, we expect to see an even greater change in girls’ attitudes about gender role norms and more girls reaching out for help.

We are thrilled with the impact in this area of our programs.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

This section of the survey includes both perception statements and knowledge questions. Some examples:

  • I know how to prevent pregnancy. Yes or No
  • How risky is hugging someone who is known to be HIV positive? Low to very high risk.

Sexual and Reproductive Health – 41% positive change although this area is not a priority in the first year Circle curriculum.  

In the first year of our program we cover very basic sex education topics including puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and consent. Not until the second year do we delve further into STD transmission and prevention as well as sexuality. Including these questions in the baseline survey helped us to learn more about girls’ current understanding sex and social norms. We can now build a stronger curriculum for the second year of the program.

Financial literacy and economic empowerment

This is a new section in our impact analysis and a new addition to our curriculum. Girl Determined implemented special financial literacy days filled with play-based learning in about half of the communities where we work. These days advanced girls’ understanding of common problems like debt and also the use of a bank. Additionally, the empowerment portion of the section comes through our weekly Circles as we confront gender role norms about household and community decision-making.

The survey included questions like;

  • Saving and borrowing are both ways to reach financial goals. True or False
  • You must be rich to use a bank. Strongly disagree to strongly agree.
  • Women should be able to earn their own money. Strongly disagree to strongly agree.
  • Women should be able to decide how to spend the money that they earn themselves. Strongly disagree to strongly agree.

Financial literacy and economic empowerment - 53% positive change

We think that this 53% positive change is a great impact for the first year of adding these sessions to our programs. As Myanmar transitions and banks continue to open and employment opportunities shift this is increasingly important knowledge for girls. At the moment there are still no banking packages for young people and predatory lending even apparently benign microlending can turn a girl’s world upside down.   So we will continue to enhance this aspect of our program over the coming years.

Attendance had a clear influence on the extent of positive change.

Across all sections of the survey positive change correlated with higher levels of attendance. This shows that the more girls are able to engage with the weekly program, the more they get out if it. A great result.

Furthermore, though more data analysis needs to be done on this, it appears on cursory evaluation, that in communities where we have worked for multiple years, we are seeing greater change through the course of the first year of our curriculum. This may demonstrate that as our weekly Circles become rooted the conditions of the community are changing to the extent that the community has become more amendable to girls taking on leadership roles and bringing their voices forward in both private and public.

For those of you that are still with me after this long, detailed description of impact, thanks for sticking it out. As you can see we are making change! And it is a real honor to be able to present this type of rigorous evidence to each of you.

We are now engaged in collecting data for the current program cycle, which just started. In the future we will work to ensure that girls who have completed our programs learn how to handle the surveys and get the chance to go around the country to meet other girls and conduct the surveys themselves. This will not simply be a useful skill for girls, but our data will be even more reliable as data collection and program participants will be peers.

Thanks for you ongoing support. Please consider becoming a monthly supporter to ensure that we can steadily expand our programs to reach more girls across the country.

All the best,

Brooke

Photo credit: Andrew Stanbridge

Links:

Aug 3, 2015

Data! Data! Data! What is our impact?

Girl Determined participants having fun- together.
Girl Determined participants having fun- together.

Greetings friends and supporters,

I am so pleased to be able to report on the impact that your contributions are having in the lives of over 2000 adolescent girls across 41 communities in six states of Myanmar.   Often in these updates I like to share an individual girl’s story to illuminate the way that Girl Determined has worked together with her to improve her life. However, today I want to share a data-driven story of change. Bear with me. I am a bit of a wonk, but more importantly, we want you to know how Girl Determined develops and improves programming based on our findings and evidence.

You may know that Girl Determined's core program, Circles, is a two-year, after-school leadership program for girls aged 12-17.  Of course, some of the girls are not in school, so for them it is an outside-of-the-home or after-work activity.  We have crafted, tested and revised a weekly, activity-based curriculum, that participating girls tell us is fun, interesting, helpful, inspiring and engenders confidence and a strengthened belief in one's ability to shape her future. 

As we have done in past years we surveyed some of the participating girls at the beginning of the school year and at the close of the school year to understand the impact of the weekly Circles program. Where are we seeing the most progress? In what ways is the curriculum weak? Are they any trends that we did not expect?

We conducted a baseline last year in June and July and end-line survey this year in February and March for 300 of the same adolescent girl participants across the country.  Conducting such a survey is no small feat as our research team has to carry heavy bags of questionnaires by foot, bicycle, motorbike, bus and car before entering the data in the office computers. Because girls in different areas speak different local languages we also need to adapt the survey for reliable results.

Using a Salesforce database, a new tool to us, we were able to analyze the data.  Below is a summary of each of the four key sections of the survey and what we found. The girls included in the survey were all entering into the first year of their Circles.

Leadership

This section of the survey relates both directly to the curriculum topics as well as to the program’s process work including comfort with self-disclosure and ability to speak in a groups. The section includes scale questions that have girls answer from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’ according to their impressions of statements including;

  • I know what I am good at.
  • I have unique skills and talents.
  • I can stand up for myself if I disagree with friends.

Leadership Score - 46% positive change

As these changes in girls’ self-perception and attitudes are fundamental to a girl’s ability to exercise control over her life choices, regardless of how limited those choices may be, they represent the most important aspect of our program. These are transformational and foundational changes in girls’ worlds.

The 46% increase means, when pulled together, and each girl’s individual baseline and end-line compared, we found that 46% of the girls underwent real positive change in her personal leadership and self-perception. Girls’ baseline and end-line were compared and 46% of girls reported positive changes on more than half of the leadership-oriented questions and statements.

Gender-based Violence

Like the Leadership section, girls are asked to respond with the level of agreement to statements, including the following.

  • A woman has the right to say no if someone tries to touch her or have sex with her when she doesn’t want them to.
  • Sometimes women need to tolerate violence to keep the family together.
  • Wealthier people don’t have a problem with violence against women.
  • Do you know - I know of a place or person in my community where I can go to report violence or abuse of a girl or women.

Gender-based Violence - 58% positive change

Of the four key areas of the survey we saw the greatest shift in perception and knowledge around gender-based violence. 58% of the girls showed tangible positive change in their views about girls’ and women’s rights to safety and security and, happily, girls now know that the can come to us to report abuse or in search of a safe place. As we continue to build out safety planning and comprehensive sexuality education modules, we expect to see an even greater change in girls’ attitudes about gender role norms and more girls reaching out for help.

We are thrilled with the impact in this area of our programs.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

This section of the survey includes both perception statements and knowledge questions. Some examples:

  • I know how to prevent pregnancy. Yes or No
  • How risky is hugging someone who is known to be HIV positive? Low to very high risk.

Sexual and Reproductive Health – 41% positive change although this area is not a priority in the first year Circle curriculum.  

In the first year of our program we cover very basic sex education topics including puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and consent. Not until the second year do we delve further into STD transmission and prevention as well as sexuality. Including these questions in the baseline survey helped us to learn more about girls’ current understanding sex and social norms. We can now build a stronger curriculum for the second year of the program.

Financial literacy and economic empowerment

This is a new section in our impact analysis and a new addition to our curriculum. Girl Determined implemented special financial literacy days filled with play-based learning in about half of the communities where we work. These days advanced girls’ understanding of common problems like debt and also the use of a bank. Additionally, the empowerment portion of the section comes through our weekly Circles as we confront gender role norms about household and community decision-making.

The survey included questions like;

  • Saving and borrowing are both ways to reach financial goals. True or False
  • You must be rich to use a bank. Strongly disagree to strongly agree.
  • Women should be able to earn their own money. Strongly disagree to strongly agree.
  • Women should be able to decide how to spend the money that they earn themselves. Strongly disagree to strongly agree.

Financial literacy and economic empowerment - 53% positive change

We think that this 53% positive change is a great impact for the first year of adding these sessions to our programs. As Myanmar transitions and banks continue to open and employment opportunities shift this is increasingly important knowledge for girls. At the moment there are still no banking packages for young people and predatory lending even apparently benign microlending can turn a girl’s world upside down.   So we will continue to enhance this aspect of our program over the coming years.

Attendance had a clear influence on the extent of positive change.

Across all sections of the survey positive change correlated with higher levels of attendance. This shows that the more girls are able to engage with the weekly program, the more they get out if it. A great result.

Furthermore, though more data analysis needs to be done on this, it appears on cursory evaluation, that in communities where we have worked for multiple years, we are seeing greater change through the course of the first year of our curriculum. This may demonstrate that as our weekly Circles become rooted the conditions of the community are changing to the extent that the community has become more amendable to girls taking on leadership roles and bringing their voices forward in both private and public.

For those of you that are still with me after this long, detailed description of impact, thanks for sticking it out. As you can see we are making change! And it is a real honor to be able to present this type of rigorous evidence to each of you.

We are now engaged in collecting data for the current program cycle, which just started. In the future we will work to ensure that girls who have completed our programs learn how to handle the surveys and get the chance to go around the country to meet other girls and conduct the surveys themselves. This will not simply be a useful skill for girls, but our data will be even more reliable as data collection and program participants will be peers.

Thanks for you ongoing support. Please consider becoming a monthly supporter to ensure that we can steadily expand our programs to reach more girls across the country.

All the best,

Brooke

Photo credit: Andrew Stanbridge

Links:

May 11, 2015

My Story of Change - Ja Seng Hkawn, Age 15

An IDP Kachin girl in her camp home
An IDP Kachin girl in her camp home

Warm greetings friends of Girl Determined,

Today I want to check in by sharing with you a the transcript of a recent interview of Ja Seng Hkawn. Ja Seng Hkawn comes from the far north of Myanmar, Kachin State. She is a member of the Kachin ethnic group. Ja Seng Hkawn was forced to flee with her family from their village over two years ago due to heavy artillery fire in the area. Like the other 200 internally-displaced girls in the camps of Kachin state that are active in Girl Determined's programs, Ja Seng Hkawn's life was uprooted due to the ongoing civil conflcit between the Kachin National forces and the Myanmar National army.  Your support will continue to help Ja Seng Hkawn to make friends, find joy and not only develop a plan for her future but have the confidence to work to fulfill it. 

I have edited the interview for comprehension and length.  Otherwise, these are her words, translated of course from her native Kachin. I know its a bit long, but please, take the time to hear her.  The changes she describes are invaluable, and despite ongoing conflict and injustice, cannot be taken away.

"I have many reasons for joining Girl Determined’s activities. In previous years, I had to live with my aunt’s family because my parents could not afford to support my studies. During that time I heard about a neighbor who was drug addict and raped his own daughter. I also heard about the girls being trafficked. That news frightened me. I was also afraid of being forced or pushed to getting married at a young age. I thought that perhaps by joining GD Circles, I could learn more and find ways to protect myself from such frightening things. I realized that there were many things that I didn’t know about and it seemed that joining could help me to learn some of those things.

In the beginning I was not very active. If the facilitator or coach asked me to speak, I would speak. I just followed their instructions exactly. Later on, I became more active. Once we reached the topic of Effective Listening, that really sparked me and I started to become much more active. I started to understand what it meant to “be active” and to learn actively. I have started changing in the way I speak and behave. In the past, I didn’t pay attention to anything that was going on around me. Even when someone was smiling at me, I would just ignore it. But since I have been attending GD Circles, I have begun to smile back. I have become more patient. I have become more considerate. In the past, if I had been hurt by another person, I would be only be contented if I hurt them back 3 or 4 more times. Now, I can sympathize and realize that if I get revenge, then this issue will never stop. From listening to others in the circle and from learning to organize together in sports, I have come to see that others have different experiences and opinions and I can now better understand others and am able to tolerate differences.

And, another big thing is about my life’s ambition. I have developed a series of plans in order to reach my life’s ambition thanks to sessions on goal setting. I want to be a singer. I am really impressed with artists. My plan is first, I will try to pass the matriculation. I can go for audition after matriculation. I actually have two ambitions. If I don’t become a singer, I will be a pastor. If I fail the audition, I will go to Theology school. Either way I can console depressed people. I am interested in such work. Now as I am in the IDP camp, it seems very useful to be able to console depressed people.

I have changed in other ways too. My neighbors used to say that I was a “bad girl.” I was short tempered. So, people didn’t like me much. I always reacted and responded to them, so they said I am an aggressive person. Now I don’t react much. They have changed their way of relating to me because of my changes. Now that I have attended GD Circles and I have changed and they started talking to me nicely."

Please consider supporting another girl.  More change is ahead.

With regards,

brooke

Photo credit: Andrew Stanbridge

Circles.
Circles.
A determined girl Kachin girl and her mother
A determined girl Kachin girl and her mother

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