Girl Effect’s first youth program launched in India

By Matters India Reporter

October 10, 2019: A voluntary organization working in more than 50 countries on October 10 launched its first youth program in India to empower adolescent girls through digital media content.

The launch of “Chhaa Jaa” (Go Forth and Shine) was to mark the International Day of the Girl that falls on October 11 this year.

The program aims to inspire, inform and equip girls with the right skills and confidence to navigate their teenage years and reach their potential, the organizers claim.

They say the program was launched after studying the “seismic shift in India’s digital media landscape” where youngsters are always online living on social platforms. The program will meet girls at a place where they are already looking for information.

Chhaa Jaa uses entertaining, informative and authentic storylines on three digital media properties across social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Instagram to help girls choose according to their needs.

The content is underpinned by innovative behavior change science to empower girls to make informed decisions 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.

Chhaa Jaa’s launch content is based on Girl Effect’s core belief that to deliver long-term change it is crucial to build up a girl’s sense of self, her identity and her ability to ask questions.

Arre Sunn Na (oh please listen) uses sketch comedy to tell the story of two friends – Sweety and Tannu – to deliver powerful messages on the need for girls to stand by their decisions, think of themselves as being more than their relationships, and show how to navigate difficult everyday situations.

Khullam Khulla (Open Up) and Tumhari Meri Baatein (your and my words) follow the story of an everyday girl, Rani who busts common myths teens have, and hopes to take on the shame and stigma around sexual and reproductive health knowledge.

These storylines and characters are rooted in local culture and were co-created with girls, media, gender and culture experts after months of field research with girls, boys, parents and communities across India.

A members-only online community called Bak Bak (Chatter) Gang will provide a moderated online space to take forward discussions raised by Chhaa Jaa’s content on topics like social pressures, relationships and career readiness.

Elaborating on the vision for Chhaa Jaa ahead of International Day of the Girl, Girl Effect CEO, Jessica Posner Odede, said: “Technology puts power in the hands of girls. Through Chhaa Jaa we see an incredible opportunity to use the power of mobile to engage girls with content they trust and empower them to make informed, positive decisions about their lives. Our ambition is to connect girls to services around them and create lasting change.”

Over the next two years, Chhaa Jaa aims to deliver tangible, measurable change in the lives of teenage girls in Rajasthan, while also driving towards scale across urban centers in the Hindi belt.

To help gauge the impact of Chhaa Jaa’s programs in India, Girl Effect deploys cutting edge quantitative and qualitative research expertise. Girl Effect’s Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGAs), have uncovered authentic insights into the lives of adolescent girls and will enable Girl Effect to test and improve Chhaa Jaa’s content through feedback from girls and their communities.

Girl Effect’s lead in India, Kanishk Kabiraj, added: “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 is accessible on platforms that girls are using everyday and speaks to them in a language they understand about the reality of their choices and constraints. Girls have few role models in mainstream media to look to for support and guidance, and we want Chhaa Jaa to be the go-to for girls as they make decisions that will define their own futures.”

Chhaa Jaa is currently funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation, supporting its aim to digitally connect girls to information and services they need.

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