What Counts for Girls?
Today is the International Day of the Girl, a celebration of girls and young women everywhere and the Day of the Girl’s theme for 2016 is ‘What Counts for Girls: the Role of Data in Measuring Progress’, designed to address gaps in data on girls worldwide.
I am the newest staff member at Resonate, and since the day of my first interview here in Rwanda, I have been struck by Resonate’s commitment to measuring their impact. I’ve worked at enough NGOs across the world to know that monitoring and evaluating your programs is not a task that generates much excitement. All too often, the idea of yet another survey is met with groans and complaints among staff, and collecting data points are considered the most boring part of the work.
That’s what is so different about Resonate. Refreshingly, the importance of monitoring our impact is embedded in Resonate’s programmes, and our small team is fully committed to collecting and analysing data. We carefully record all our training surveys, and phone participants one month, six months and one year after the training, to see how it has affected their lives so far. When you return from a training, the team ask eagerly for stories you heard, or examples of how Resonate’s work helps people and creates change.
There’s a simple reason for this. Just as our programs focus on storytelling, the data we collect also tells stories: stories of women who have started businesses following our training, or run for local political office for the first time. And stories matter to us!
Without that data, we wouldn’t know the incredible effect of Resonate’s work. We wouldn’t know about young women like Egidie who used to believe that the only thing she was capable of doing in life was hoeing fields. After Resonate’s training she said she felt more valuable and more confident to start saving, with the goal of starting her own business. Today, Egidie owns a shoe-selling business where she earns above $50 a month.
Without Resonate’s commitment to follow-up and measurement we would not see the impact of this confident woman leader as it reverberates into Egidie’s life, family and community, or for any of the thousands of women we’ve trained across Rwanda.
A lot of work has gone into creating our M&E system. We are able to create reports that analyze the change participants see in their lives over our core indicators for leadership. We will be monitoring our data over time, creating feedback loops so that we can identify and track solutions to the most pressing problems faced today by young women in Rwanda. And we will be sure to share that progress with you all.
On UNICEF’s Day of the Girl, I am proud that Resonate’s staff are doing our part in monitoring and communicating the progress of “nearly half of humanity” – starting with Rwanda, and our leadership programs.
Cornerstone Development student in Uganda