Innovative community- and youth-led approaches to collect and analyze qualitative data and to support the empowerment of marginalized girls in the pandemic context in Mali and Senegal
The research examines the effectiveness and impacts of innovative community- and youth-led approaches to collect and analyze qualitative data in a pandemic context in Mali and Senegal. The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the ability of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and researchers to assess the impacts of community-based projects and to carry out qualitative research. However, the pandemic context has also generated new ideas for remote data collection methods, led by communities and project ‘beneficiaries’, such as photovoice, photo-journaling, digital storytelling, and community mapping. While some of these methods have been used by development INGOs as `add-ons’ to standard, expert-driven evaluations and research studies, the abilities of marginalized groups, particularly girls, to drive and lead data collection, analysis, and dissemination have remained limited. This research will test the use of highly participatory, interactive approaches for qualitative data collection that can be used in and out of a pandemic context by adolescent girls. This research is a collaboration between the University of the Fraser Valley and the Canadian INGO, Right to Play. The objectives of the research are: i) to assess the effectiveness of using community- and youth-led approaches to collect and analyze qualitative data in Mali and Senegal; and ii) to understand the potential for these approaches to support the `empowerment’ of marginalized groups with intersecting inequalities, by increasing their agency, voice, and decision-making abilities. Right to Play field staff in Mali and Senegal will identify adolescent girls from existing projects as research participants. The selected girls will engage in small community-based workshops (with adherence to Covid-19 restrictions) to identify areas of study, and to learn about and adapt several innovative data collection methods. Provided with journals, audio recorders, and digital cameras, they will document their views and experiences in their communities, while attending regular check-in workshops. The adolescent girls will also reflect upon and share their findings in small groups in their own communities, with families, school actors, community leaders, and other stakeholders. The PI at UFV and collaborators at Right to Play will rely on the girls’ data and analyses to assess the effectiveness of the approaches as well as their potential to contribute to the empowerment of research participants.