How do girls in Lagos and New Delhi use technology?

Download the Goal research report here
By Savita Bailur and Sudha Vijay

Between April and June 2017, Caribou Digital were commissioned to complete a short research study for Standard Chartered’s Goal programme to understand the use of technology (particularly mobile internet) by girls aged 12-24 in New Delhi and Lagos.  Goal is Standard Chartered’s global programme which, in more than 20 countries, aims to work with girls on sports and life skills education.

The purpose of this pilot study was to understand the opportunities and risks of bringing the Goal programme online – and so, to first understand the extent of online usage by girls. Over two months, we conducted expert interviews, including with Goal staff in Nigeria and India, conducted focus groups in New Delhi and Lagos (in total of 50 girls), as well as interviewed family members and Goal staff. We also built on our Digital Days methodology, piloted in a previous Caribou project in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.

A first major finding is that girls do enjoy Goal but are drawn to it (in our sample) because of the sports element rather than the life skills element. Second, while access to mobile phones is important for all the girls we talked to, and they are aware of privacy settings and risks associated with behaviour online, the latter is largely learned informally. There is a major gap in formal instructors for online safety or others they can talk to for advice (which we also saw in literature). The role of family is also critical in both accessing Goal and being online.  One role that requires more research is that of the brothers as gate-keepers (enablers as well as disruptors) for the girls going online. Partner staff on the ground also become key intermediaries and tend to be trusted as friends (one girl calls a coach “didi” or sister).

Goal needs to consider the implications of these findings for bringing the curriculum online. It is precisely the physical aspect of being together in a safe space that the girls enjoy – and so going online may not necessarily provide this. They enjoy the play-based approach, so this should also be emphasised. In addition, most do not have their own phones – while they do have access to phones, these are usually shared and so use is limited. While some girls enjoy chatting with others, they tend not to do so with strangers (or at least, they told us this), and other logistics might be a concern, such as chatting across timezones. Another suggestion would be to focus on a dedicated ‘safety and privacy online’ life skill module, which could also be offered to alumni and targeted at family members too. The role of brothers in particular needs to be addressed.

A final note is that these themes were limited to New Delhi and Lagos, and so there may be different findings not only in other cities in India and Nigeria but also in other Goal countries. In addition, the focus group method does favour “group-think”, and girls may not have always spoken up with their private thoughts in a quasi-public context. There were discrepancies at times between what Goal staff perceived and what girls told us (more on this in the report). This therefore requires a more in-depth study, including close ethnographic work to understand online use and behaviour of 12-24 year olds across Goal markets.

We would like to thank Ananya Basu and Adeshola Komolafe for fieldwork in New Delhi and Lagos, all our respondents within the Goal programme, Natasha Kwakwa, Payal Dalal, all staff at Naz, YEF, and those who kindly reviewed the report for us.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of this report. It does not express the views of Standard Chartered PLC.