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Rwanda’s Girl Research Unit Ready for Deployment

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An unlikely team of researchers from across Rwanda are revolutionising data collection and information analysis— they’re girls.

Adolescent girls are the greatest untapped source of social and economic growth in Rwanda. And gaining critical insights into their lives, perceptions, and communities is instrumental to enable her to reach her potential.

Being young girls themselves, the Girl Research Unit is in a unique position to get accurate insight into adolescent girls in Rwanda—as their peers, girls feel more comfortable talking to someone they can relate to, someone they know and can trust. Gaining insights into these adolescent girls generates information that can help stop a cycle of poverty for these girls before it starts.

The Girl Research Unit are six young women trained researchers that focus on gaining actionable insight from adolescent girls. They speak to girls, boys, parents, gatekeepers, local leaders, and community members across Rwanda. Their research brings to life voice of adolescent girls.

Developed under Girl Hub Rwanda Monitoring and Learning (M&L), with support from UK-based 2CV, the GRU are a very different team of researchers. Not only because they are girls. It is because they are Rwandan girls that they can go much further into communities, gain the trust of the members of these communities, and gather information about the most difficult to track girls.

Before the GRU provided information on 10-12 year old out-of-school girls in Rwanda, this group was technically considered “unreachable.” Little was known about them—even how and where to find these girls. The GRU’s community trust not only enabled them to find 10-12 year old girls out of school, but befriend them. Through games and fun activities, the girls open up. The information and insights gathered will facilitate programs geared specifically to enable these girls to live more meaningful lives. The information the GRU gathers will be instrumental to make national policies in Rwanda work better for vulnerable girls.

Working with 2CV Senior Research Executive Jamal Khadar, the team of young researchers gained confidence in their skills as researchers. They learned qualitative and quantitative research techniques, namely the SenseMaker research technique.

The journey with the girls began with in-depth training and skills development and in the last year, confident young women have emerged with the expertise and knowledge to carry out in-depth quality research. As Jamal Khadar, a Senior Research Executive at 2CV who spent six months in Rwanda working on the project recalls, “I saw these young women make a wonderful presentation in English at the [Girl Hub] Girl Learning Summit, a conference with over 100 people focused on girl-centred working in Rwanda. They were incredibly professional and confident and impressed the audience with their unique skills.”

Through storytelling, the GRU gather stories that girls tell about their lives and analyse this information on a large scale. It is an exceptional research method and the girls of GRU have become experts in using this tool to gather data about girls in Rwanda.

A few of the milestones the GRU team has achieved thus far include participating in Girl Consultations—a series of interviews with girls to gather their ambitions and goals for the future. These were then delivered to the Women Deliver Summit in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, where world leaders were tasked with addressing global issues that would eventually see these girls’ dreams come true. The GRU also conducted SenseMaker research at the Girl Learning Summit in Kigali, and continuously conduct Ni Nyampinga magazine reviews.

This December, 2CV and Girl Hub Rwanda were awarded the prestigious Market Research Society’s President’s Medal for their joint effort with the Girl Research Unit. A key achievement of the GRU in the last few months was to pilot the Girl Consultation approach that girl effect  have since rolled out globally. This process captured the voices of 250 girls from 14 countries and was the basis of the Girl Declaration. The Girl Declaration is a call to action to put girls at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda and has since been signed by the UN’s Secretary General.

The work of the GRU has only just begun—they are now looking forward to training another generation of qualitative researchers. The future of the GRU includes building partnerships with local and international research organizations, achieving certification and accreditation, and increased mentorship and professional development.

Quick Facts

•    2CV is a global research agency with offices in London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong.

•    The GRU aims to impact national policy affecting girls

•    The GRU provides a national platform for the most vulnerable and ‘difficult to reach’ girls in all corners of the country

•    Programme will train young Rwandans and support the emerging demand for research and research professionals in the country

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