Girl Effect is piloting TEGA (Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors) in Saginaw, Michigan, in the United States, to test its authority as a truly global research tool to better understand young people.
Originally developed in Northern Nigeria to uncover insights about girls in some of the hardest to reach communities in the world, TEGA is Girl Effect’s revolutionary and award-winning research tool. This is the first time it will be used to carry out research in a developed nation.
Laura Scanlon, Director of TEGA at Girl Effect, said:
“At Girl Effect, we know that when it comes to understanding girls in hard-to-reach communities, conventional research methods have serious limitations. To unleash change, there needs to be a much better understanding of girls’ realities. Our hope is that TEGA’s success in Saginaw will not only help pave the way for changing the situation for girls living there, but will pioneer a new wave of mobile innovation in the development sector, shifting from treating the symptoms of poverty to addressing its root causes.”
Saginaw, formerly a vibrant manufacturing city with over 100,000 residents, has seen its population halve since the 1960s. Most families now live in poverty.
-Saginaw was once a vibrant manufacturing city but much of the industry has closed down
According to Forbes, Saginaw has been reported to be one of the most dangerous cities in America to be a woman. Recent statistics show violent crime is 3.5 times higher than the national average and a woman is 4 times more likely to be a victim of rape. Despite evidence that crime rates are falling, there is little to no research revealing the cause, extent and impact of violence on the community and, in particular, its impact on women and girls.
Girl Effect is working alongside Saginaw-based organisation, Youth M.O.V.E, to employ and train a group of local young women from Saginaw to become fully qualified Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors and conduct research through bespoke mobile phones. The technology allows them to conduct, store and share insights about their - and their communities’ - lives quickly, authentically and safely.
-A TEGA conducting an interview
Willie Hillman, Director of Youth M.O.V.E. Saginaw, has been working with Girl Effect to run the training of all the girl researchers:
“All too often, not enough time is spent actually listening to young people, how they feel about their community, and what they think needs to change – that’s particularly true of young women and girls. This research has the potential to give young women in Saginaw a platform to make their voices heard, and we hope it will be embraced by those who have the power to make change happen.”
The project is already gathering local momentum. Dan Kildee, US Congressman for Saginaw, Bay City and Flint recently met the TEGAs. He said,
“Girl Effect is doing important work using technology to lift up and empower girls in our community and around the world. I was inspired after meeting the girls in Saginaw and moved learning about their mission and work. The TEGA research helps leaders learn about the experiences of young people in their community and increase opportunities for girls in places like Saginaw and across the world. I am excited to follow Girl Effect and their great work in Michigan.”
-Congressman Dan Kildee meets the TEGAs
The research findings will be available by the end of this year.