Wednesday 22 July 2015 saw the first anniversary of the Girl Summit, which took place in London, hosted by UNICEF and DFID. The conference aimed to bring governments, NGOs and organisations together to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation.
Many organisations made commitments on that day, and UNICEF has produced a report to update the public on the progress of some of those commitments.
The With and For Girls Collective had just begun to take shape around the time of the Girl Summit. The first four strategic partners - EMpower, Mama Cash, Plan UK and Stars Foundation - took the opportunity of the event to commit to launching an awards programme that would identify and reward strong grassroots organisations working with and for adolescent girls.
The Collective features in the UNICEF report (on page 11) amongst other great initiatives and organisations all working to promote rights for girls. Being featured in this report puts the Collective in a good position to continue to make valuable connections with policymakers and major funders.
Through these connections, the Collective aims to raise the profile of outstanding grassroots organisations and show key influencers, and others, the value of flexible funding and investing in locally-led organisations.
In the lead-up to the first anniversary of the Girl Summit, the Collective was also busy running the exciting final stage of the application process of the With and For Girls Award.
Judging panels made up of adolescent girls took place in five cities: Cairo, Dar es Salaam, London, Mexico City and Mumbai, corresponding with the five regions where awards will be made. The process itself took around four days to complete per panel, comprising of a day of training followed by three days of interviewing the finalists and an afternoon of deliberating.
Typically interviews took place via Skype but sometimes via phone or FaceTime when connectivity was a problem. Prior to the interviews, panellists watched an audio visual presentation supplied by each of the shortlisted applicants to help gain an understanding of what they were working on, the impact they have had so far and the challenges they face.
Panellists also revisited any outstanding questions from the first phase of the process. Panellists took it in turns to ask the applicant questions, with each interview lasting approximately one hour.
At the end of the four-day process, the girls chose which four organisations from their region, two large and two small, stood out as winners. Selected organisations with an income between US $25,000-100,000 will receive US $15,000 whilst organisations with an income between US $100,000-500,000 will receive US $50,000.
Funding will be awarded on a flexible basis, allowing the organisations to choose how they spend the funds allocated to them.
Girl participation is a key element of the With and For Girls Award. Critically, the winning organisations will either be run by girls themselves or will be working in close partnership with girls, ensuring that girls are not only receiving the support that they need to realise their rights but are active participants in the design, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the work.
Many of the shortlisted organisations expressed their delight at being interviewed by fellow adolescent girls, noting how unusual and refreshing the process was.
As an observer of the London panel I was incredibly impressed by the advanced level of questioning and attention to detail that came from the panellists and it was clear to me that each one felt the full weight of responsibility placed upon her.
We have also worked hard to include girls in the brand development aspect of the award. At the end of the judging process, panellists from all five regions completed a questionnaire that is being used to help design the logo for the awards.
It has been exciting to compare and contrast input from girls all around the world as the brand will aim to represent all girls. Different cultural ideals and a preference for certain aesthetics have definitely appeared throughout the branding exercise.
It will be interesting to see, with this varied input, how the final logo will look. The responses that have come from the brand questionnaires have been thought-provoking, often challenging stereotypes and norms. We will have a lot more to say on this subject once the With and For Girls brand has been launched in October.
The anniversary of the Girl Summit coinciding with the final stage of the awards process has given me time to reflect on just how far the Collective has come within the space of a year.
As a group of funders, we have worked hard to keep to our ambitious timeline and have found ways of involving girls in a meaningful way at various stages of the process.
I am looking forward to seeing what comes next for the With and For Girls Collective, and of course to announce in November which twenty organisations from across the globe are winners of the inaugural With and For Girls Award.