The story of an enigmatic woman across a state border
In July 2018, we set out across to the state of Rajasthan, miles away from Mumbai, the concrete jungle. After a three-hour road journey from the main city, we reached Bhap, a little-known village in Western Rajasthan. It is home to approximately 10,000 people of which only 4000 are women (Census, 2011).
The assignment was for Women Serve, a not-for-profit, operating out of Western Rajasthan, India. The NGO has been working towards advancing the status of women in six different villages specifically in the district of Paholdi.
The brief was simple – the organization was looking to establish a community park which would provide a safe place for women to improve the quality of their life and that of their family by learning various skills. This community park would also serve as a medium for women to exchange ideas and grow personally.
An answer to the key questions – Would a community park be welcomed by women and what would be the possible triggers and barriers to participate?– would then serve as a template for action for other villages where Women Serve would run the program.
When we got down to our ‘drawing board’, we realized that for Women Serve to make the right decisions about various interventions, it was essential for us to look at the woman in Bhap through a holistic lens.
This comprehensive lens was used throughout the designing and execution phases of the study. Thus, we broke up our research objectives into the following
Identify the needs and motivations of women
Identify their deep-rooted belief and aspirations
Identify activities that she could engage in at the community park
Furthermore, our study was designed in the following way:
In our one week in the village, we did 30 qualitative interactions – a mix of group discussions as well as one on one interactions. We also gave shape to a quantitative questionnaire, right on the field – basis our learnings from the interactions – and performed 130 interviews representing all layers of the society in the village.
For e.g. several communities i.e. castes inhabit the village – a reality that became prominent once we were on the ground. It was critical for us to get a representative response – since one’s caste dictates the way of living in the village. For instance, the higher one is in the caste ladder, the more likely one is to receive education. These are dimensions could have been easily missed had we not spent the time with the villagers.
Due to our holistic and dynamic approach, we were able to observe nuances that otherwise one would possibly skip on. For example, all our qualitative interactions happened at the woman’s house – giving us the opportunity to observe her home life and her interaction with her family members. For instance, we were able to pick up on her hesitation to admit her TV viewing patterns in front of her in-laws and husband.
We also met with influencers in the village – the head of the village (Sarpanch) as well as the hostel warden to understand the workings of the village from a third person’s perspective.
Our study provided us with key insights that gave the organization some new directions and helped make some reiterations on directions they wanted to take.
It is important to note that the stakeholders of the NGO live in big cities and the key sponsor is in USA. Our research brought to life the context that otherwise would have been difficult for the NGO.
The Bhap woman since her birth is a burden to her family. Thus, being married off in her childhood – sometimes even at birth. Education is out of the question. Her life is spent catering to the needs of her family, within the four walls.
Given this social context, she lacked the self-confidence to even step out of the house, much less dream. Dreams and aspirations are words that did not seem to belong in their dictionary.
In her complex reality, her only solace is engaging in the activity of sewing. The activity is so deep rooted in her life that one can find evidence of it when one visits homes in Bhap – you will often find them displaying their work to visitors.
The impact of the activity was one of our key learnings from the study. Along with cultural rootedness, it also allowed her to work from the comfort of her own home. Moreover, most women saw it as a possible source of income. One of them said to us, “My neighbor is uneducated like me. But she knows stitching so she earns 3000 a month”. Thus, this was an avenue for her to increase her confidence and help her stand on her own two feet (financial independence) in the truest sense.
Moreover, through our quantitative learnings, we found that this activity as part of the community park was highly endorsed by women for the above reasons and more – it was an activity that was acceptable in the community and no one would raise any questions if she left her house to pursue and excel at this activity.
Knowledge sharing sessions as part of the community park was another action step for the organization. After a day’s work women are often seen visiting each other. This opportunity could be utilized to share stories and learn new skills.
Thus, the study provided key nudges that would push the boundaries slowly and steadily for the women of Bhap and go a long way in making sure that Women Serve is able to make dreams and aspirations a reality for the coming generation.
About the Authors: Niyati Taggarsi, Research Executive, Ormax Consultants, India
(The study was done in collaboration with Madhur Mohan, Research Manager – Kantar)
The Equals, unlike other NGOs, is an organization which focuses on advocacy issues related to people with disabilities. They function as a facilitator between the government and people with disabilities by making them aware about the policies while understanding the challenges faced in their day to day lives to help the government in developing policies customized to their needs.
In 2016, The Disabilities Act was revised to enable more equality for the differently abled. Among the other reforms, two major changes include – recognition of new categories of disabilities and, revisions in policies to ensure inclusiveness. It was two years since the enactment of the new policies and Equals wanted to assess the impact of the changes in policy by evaluating the extent of awareness of the Disabilities Act among the differently abled and their experience about exclusiveness and discrimination.
The research was delivered pro bono to Equals, under the banner of The Community Program (TCP) of the Market Research Society of India (MRSI). The TCP is MR industry funded, with mentoring and research time, volunteered by research practitioners with an objective to make professional research accessible to NGOs that cannot typically afford it.
This study was conducted by me, Divya Meenakshy, a volunteer researcher from Brandscapes Worldwide. I conducted Qualitative interviews among the people with disabilities/guardians and NGOs supporting the cause. The first set of interviews was with people with different disabilities to assess their level of awareness while the second set of interactions was with the NGO managers to understand their perceptions and solution directions that they perceived as important in the current scenario.
I used Qualitative (In-depth interviews) because:
– It helped with meeting people in their comfort zone considering the sensitivity of the topic and make the respondent comfortable emotionally to be able to talk to me
– Each disability is different, and hence the approach to them had to be different. This was only possible through a qualitative exercise.
The center chosen was Mumbai, Maharashtra State, as it has one of the highest numbers of disabled in India and usually, a large city like Mumbai is where most legislations are generally first implemented.
The research helped in qualifying areas that Equals need to focus on the bring about the desired change along with a professional report that would help Equals to have a fact-based conversation with the policy makers and implementers.
The research focus on three key areas of policy, namely Medical, Education and Employment and these were assessed for awareness, accessibility and actionability – Aware of the policy and the change introduced; Able to Access all the information related to policy/scheme and finally, If they were able to see it come to Action for themselves in their interactions.
Through this research, it was found that awareness was not an issue but accessing and exercising the policies by the disabled was the major concern.
For example, in education, “Right to education” is known to all. However, when it comes to actual implementation – infrastructure isn’t disable-friendly and learning aids are not easily available which in turn hampers their learning process.
The clear direction was to focus on not just the policy but work towards creating infrastructure, for example learning aids for the differently abled to be made available at educational institutions. It was understood that across all three areas of policy researched, limited and accessible information sources and inadequate infrastructure were impediments to policy implementation.
Organizations like Equals help in bridging the gap between the disabled groups and the government. Through this research, Equals and in turn the government would be able to identify the challenges at ground level and thus define actions that are fit to purpose. It is a long way before we become a society that creates equitable opportunities for the differently abled.
An eye-opening fact which I’ve discovered during the research is that while newer buildings require by law ramps for wheelchairs, and are provided in newer shopping malls or other institutions, they are not constructed according to the measurements for a wheel-chair to access! I personally would not have known this to be a challenge as this seemed to be an area where the implementation rates of policy were high.
My hope is that through this research work we have enabled Equals to have a conversation with stakeholders on the need for creating not just the policy but to work towards making it accessible and actionable at an everyday level. I hope too that the MRSI through TCP will initiate more similar work in the coming years and drive change for the society one step at a time.
This research for Equals is one small step in the right direction.
In an ideal world, we would have conducted a longitudinal study, tracking a group of girls from birth to college. But we didn’t have 20 years; we had about 6 months.
Ultimately, we needed to build a quantitative model; Girls Who Code wanted to understand what interventions would make a difference – and what impact they would have on the pipeline of women into computing.
Phase 1: Identifying the problem
However, before even beginning to think about questionnaire design, we needed to understand the mindset of girls – and their wider ecosystem of support (e.g., parents, teachers, friends).
But who knows what goes on inside a teenager’s head? Sure, we’ve all been teenagers. Some of you might today be parents/carers for teenagers. But can any of us, hand on heart, say they understand what teenagers think and feel? Do we understand the language they use? And the relationship these digital natives have with ubiquitous technology?
We also needed to consider how best to tap into insights from different groups: A traditional focus group might be intimidating for younger girls – and we needed to get their parents onboard for legal as well as research reasons. And how could we tap into the energy and natural curiosity of high-school girls?
We turned to PSBfor help, and through extensive desk research and brainstorming sessions, settled on a ‘Community Case Study’ approach. Mimicking the life-journey that makes or breaks a girl’s interest in computing we not only needed to speak to girls of different ages, but also to other life stakeholders who shape a teenager’s development. This of course meant that we needed to tailor our methodology to each audience we spoke to: Ethnographic ‘kitchen-table’ discussions with primary school girls, their friends and their parents; fun conflict or ‘swing’ groups with high-school girls to learn the language they use to advocate a career in computing; classic focus groups with coding students and young professionals to better understand the life stories behind their decision in favour of computing.
And, given the huge role of societal factors, we wanted to follow an anthropologist-like approach by selecting two contrasting cities, Atlanta and New York, in which we spoke with more than 150 people.
Phase 2: Framing the solution
We used the language and insights from the case studies to build an online quantitative survey which was answered by ~9000 individuals drawn from the same groups as the community case studies.
We combined this survey data with labour force statistics into a model to identify the factors that most influence girls’ decisions to pursue computing further at each stage of their educational journey.
The model allowed us to show how the proportion of women could rise from 24% to 39% by acting on the most positively influential factors – and was also used to calculate the associated $299 billion uplift in women’s earnings.
Pleasingly, the barriers we identified in the community case studies were very strongly evidenced during the subsequent quantitative analysis. The need to spark interest at middle school; sustain interest at high school; and inspire interest in college, were all suggested by the qual – then proved by the quant.
The research within “Cracking the Gender Code” has supported the work of GWC by helping the organization tell the story of the gender gap in tech and make the case for interventions earlier in the academic pipeline.
The report has been used by GWC to rally support to programmes which have reached 185,000 girls across the United States. GWC founder and CEO Reshma Saujani said: “In order to create a more equitable tech industry, we have to understand the extent of the problem – how many girls and women are participating in the field, when they drop out of tech, and why. The research within the Accenture and Girls Who Code report “Cracking the Gender Code” has been invaluable as we work to rally support for our programs, for solutions to closing the gender gap in tech.”
Dominic Kingis a Senior Principal at Accenture Research. Accenture Research is a team of ~300 researchers and analysts across 23 countries. It shapes trends and creates data-driven insights about the most pressing issues global organizations face.
Brita Cooper is a Project Manager at PSB. With roots in innovative political campaign strategy, today PSB are a full-service research insights agency engaging blue-chip organizations across all sectors.
India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, still loses 300,000 young lives each year to pneumonia and diarrhea, diseases that we have the tools to prevent. If practiced together, handwashing with soap at key occasions (HWWS) and complete immunization, two of the most cost-effective child survival interventions, could significantly reduce under 5 mortality. Lifebuoy, Unilever’s leading health soap brand and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an innovative public-private partnership working to immunise children in the world’s poorest countries, came together to design an integrated communication platform called ‘Safal Shuruaat’. Translated as ‘Successful Beginning’, the program harnesses parents’ aspirations for their child’s success to help mobilise parents to handwash with soap at key occasions, immunize their children and other key parenting behaviours. The program aims to achieve sustained behaviour change in handwashing with soap and immunization under the ‘aspirational’ umbrella of successful parenting as a communication platform to save lives of young children and help them reach a better potential while intervening in the first 2 years: bringing down the under 5 mortality rates. Safal Shuruaat is being implemented by a consortium led by GroupM, with Kantar as the research partner responsible for monitoring and evaluation.
A successful start
‘Safal Shuruaat’ has been implemented in an initial two pilot districts in Uttar Pradesh, India. Further scale-up in 12 additional districts is planned for the second half of 2019. The program takes parents of children under 2 years on an engaging journey through a series of village events, home visits, and a group encounter at the rural childcare centres and school.
The overall research design, provides 360-degree support to program implementation, with multiple components set out with the following objectives:
Formative: To understand the status quo and build a hypothesis that could be tested and utilized to inform initial program design and strategy.
Concurrent Monitoring (initial two pilot districts):To track key indicators on handwashing and immunization in synergy with the pilot intervention roll-out, and provide strategic inputs for course correction through learning, preparing the program for scale up.
Impact Evaluation: To estimate the effectiveness and impact of the program on the knowledge, attitudes, intents and practices around handwashing and immunization by comparing treatment and control groups (pre-and post-intervention) in the scale-up phase.
Sustainability Measurement: To capture behaviour regression and relapse to understand the intervention’s contribution to sustained behaviour change.
Documenting and Dissemination: To capture and record ‘positive deviance’, capturing insightful stories and creating a strong learning & sharing culture with internal as well as external stakeholders.
The Formative research formative research included 800 face to face CAPI assisted quantitative surveys with parents of under 2 years, along with 70 qualitative activities with key influencers and enablers, including extended family members, village heads, and field-level workers. Findings showed that parents broadly considered children’s health issues to be beyond their span of control and an unavoidable part of their life. Childcare practices were mostly governed by prevalent social beliefs, norms and rituals, which potentially contributed to the low uptake of suggested practices, even though promoted by front line health workers.
Concurrent monitoring was undertaken for a period of 10 months across 108 villages. Six monitoring touch points took place before and after program visits; each program visit covering progressive modules on HWWS, immunization and parenting. In a sample of about 4000 respondents engaged during the monitoring, a longitudinal panel sample of 320 households was followed to enable a deeper dive into handwashing behaviours.
The first round of concurrent monitoring (MV0) set up a baseline for knowledge, attitudes and practice indicators on HWWS, immunization as well as relevance of these in being a successful parent.
The incidence of handwashing post defecation was as low as 13% at the baseline and showed a rise of 53% within 6 months (MV4 after 3 program visits). The high engagement strategy, including the use of engaging audio-visual aides, managed to target other handwashing occasions as well. The incidence of handwashing with soap by the mothers before breastfeeding a child rose from 2.7% to 14.8 percent. In terms of the proportions, the percentage of people never washing hands post defecation dropped from 86.1 to 29.3 percent. These trends were similar for cross-sectional as well as the longitudinal panel participants.
The Mother and Child Protection Card (MCP Card) is an essential tooldesigned to inform and educate the mother and family on different aspects of maternal and childcare, linking maternal and childcare into a continuum of care. The program stresses the importance of using the MCP card and keeping it safe. Monitoring at MV4 showed an increase of 12 percentage points from the baseline (85.2%). The compliance for three priority vaccines – Rotavirus, Measles Rubella and Pentavalent – relevant for children under the age of 2, grew by 45%, 35% and 20% points respectively.
Several social and religious constraints also act as barriers to immunisation uptake. Breaking down misunderstandings and finding a way to leverage or transform social norms becomes critical if we are to increase the uptake of vaccines.
Finally, the parenting component, which was the foundation of the integrated communication platform was also monitored. Awareness of key parenting behaviours, including the understanding of the need to bond with the child, ensure adequate nutrition and maintain hygiene behaviours increased by 18%, 23% and 11% points respectively. With respect to washing own hands with soap and getting the child immunized positive trends with a 2% rise in vaccination and 11% in handwashing was reported as actions to be a good parent.
The data was analysed to examine differences in the cohort exposed to specific program visits with access to assets distributed vis-à-vis the others. The proportion of people, who received the handwashing station always washing hands with soap post defecation was 10% higher than who did not receive. Similarly, the more exposures to the program visits the higher the proportion of ‘always washing hands with soap post defecation’. An immunization calendar was given to parents to facilitate reminders around immunization dates. The ones who received the calendar showed 12%-point higher compliance for pentavalent vaccine, 11% points higher for rotavirus vaccine and 15% points higher compliance for measles-rubella vaccine as compared to the cohort that did not receive it.
This project has been a rich learning experience for each of the stakeholders and the 360-degree research component has played a critical role from strategizing and creative design right through to implementation and monitoring. At the end of the 3-year program Safal Shuruaat will have reached 5000 villages and a minimum of 300,000 households with children under 2 years.
Developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
Implemented through the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme of Ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Health Mission (NHM) of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW)
Rotavirus was introduced during the period of the programme so the increase of 45% is measured between MV1 and MV4
The Story of Ensuring Equitable Outcomes from Underprivileged Students
It was Monsoon of 2018 when I traveled to the city of Bangalore, India under the Market Research Society of India’s The Community Program (TCP), an initiative designed to give back to the community by offering world-class research and insights to small organisations which work for social causes at grass-root level. The task was unusual but interesting.
Parikrma Foundation is an NGO that strives for the holistic development of underprivileged children empowering them to become valuable contributors to society. It runs 4 schools and 1 junior college in Bangalore. Despite investment in a detailed Behaviour management policy, there was one issue that the NGO had constantly grappled with – Disciplinary Concerns.
Violence and other behavioural traits of underserved children (especially teens) that led to classroom disruption and hampered the growth of all the students. This inherent concern about discipline gave rise to need for a direction – whether or not to change the behaviour management policy? If yes, what should be the change? If not, what should Parikrma do?
This is where the journey began. While the problem looked like a disciplinary concern – to be fixed by rules and policies, I looked at it differently.
I believed that a lot of empathy was needed to understand and address this problem. The study had to be about behaviour and how does one influence it, and not about disciplinary policy and its flaws. Keeping the student as the centre of this journey – their voice and story needed to be captured. My task was to find a mid-way making the outcome relevant to both – students primarily, and the school.
To understand why the students do what they do, a qualitative research approach was apt. However, the techniques had to be minimally intrusive.
The study had 3 phases
PHASE 1: EXPLORATION
Where I set out to explore the problem in detail and left no stone unturned. It began with setting the context right and gaining conceptual clarity about adolescent behaviour. A thorough theoretical review and conversations with developmental psychologists helped in this.
This was followed by in-situ observations at the school to explore and understand what exactly is the behaviour which is labeled as undisciplined or disruptive. Also to pick non-verbal cues and elements that form a part of the school culture. I attended classes and became one of them so that the students could be themselves when with me.
I also interviewed teachers to explore stories and instances of disciplinary issues. Their challenges, their approach to discipline, etc. helped me to develop the next phase, the crux of this entire study, in a robust manner.
PHASE 2: DISCOVERY
Hidden motivations and perceptions are unearthed when the students have freedom to express. And this is exactly what the Interactive workshops we all about.
This was a unique one of its kind technique used for this study. Sessions full of energy, fun and laughter left me with amazing insights that were eye-opening.
Techniques like role-playing their teachers set the students free to express; The Superhero Factory was another exercise where the students were asked to build their own superhero by sketching and making collages, this helped me understand the figures these students look up to and want to project.
PHASE 3: DESIGN
The last part of the study where I took all the findings to some experienced psychologists and senior educators to gain action steps based on their experience.
The most important discovery from this study was – Keeping students at the forefront and dealing with them differently rather than changing rules and policies was what was required for addressing issues at Parikrma.
This broad discovery was then split into small action steps for the NGO based on key insights –
Defining the school environment
“We have simple rules and regulations, we are not their teachers, we are their brothers and sisters that is why they call us Akka and Anna” – Teacher, Parikrma
Compassion is an important aspect of the culture at Parikrma – reflected in every element of the school, be it the pet dog kept at each school or be it addressing teachers as brothers/sisters.
This led to the home vs. school dilemma in students’ mind letting them bring negative behaviour from home into school easily. There was a need to set boundaries.
This was reinforced by introducing elements that make the boundaries clear – like behaviour contract signed between students, parents and the school, reinforced during sessions by psychologists.
“Some teachers are strict and follow the policy as is, some don’t and use their judgment to some extent” – School Head, Parikrma
Inconsistent implementation of the behaviour management policy in action was curbed by knowledge sharing among teachers and giving them different levels of independence in making decisions related to policy implementation.
Creating a positive ecosystem for the students
Crux of this study was the student’s mind – It was discovered that all students had an aspiration to move out of their current underprivileged state, wanted to have a good job and luxuries. What was different in generally well-behaved students was that they could project themselves in a positive way, while the disruptive students had low self-worth and limited projection of positive self-image.
This was reinforced through regular peer-to-peer mentoring, feedback and leadership roles given to disruptive students.
Parikrma Oxygen – a big step of Parikrma based on insights generated through this study. The NGO has invested in a dedicated place on the outskirts of the city which will transport them to another environment, where the students will engage in multiple extracurricular activities and would have the space to express themselves.
The study seeded different thoughts, elements and action-steps into the “Parikrma Culture” and ways of functioning, marking the beginning of a change and the impact will be seen in the years to come.
We are excited to announce the winners of the second edition of our “Making a Difference” Competition. We have received a large number of entries – all of which of great value for highlighting and promoting how the best of research has made a significant difference to Not-For-Profits.
We had an overwhelming response and four winners were chosen by the expert jury. For this edition, the judges considered projects that made the biggest difference to the most important issues of our time, as identified by the UN SDGs.
Congratulations to the winners of 2019 Making a Difference Competition!
Making-a-Difference – Good Health and Well-being
Towards an open-defecation-free, clean India
Saptarshi Guha, Kantar, India
NFP Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen, Govt of India
Making-a-Difference – Peace Justice and Strong Institutions
Social media first: leveraging digital platforms to strengthen the political participation of Nigerian youth
Anu Mohammed, BBC Media Action, Nigeria
NFP BBC Media Action
Making-a-Difference – Gender Equality
Breaking the Silence: Uncovering the Truth about Gender-Based Violence in Mongolia
Nastasha Francesca Jimenez, UNFPA, Mongolia
NFP United Nations Population Fund
Making-a-Difference – Quality Education
Study of young people with dyslexia – challenges and needs in the Danish education system
Rie Schmidt Knudsen, Epinion, Denmark
NFP Egmont Foundation
The winners are invited to present their work at a special ‘Making a Difference’ session at this year’s ESOMAR Congress in Edinburgh, 8-11 September.
Among the entries there were a number of them which deserved a commendation for their excellent approach, so, we are particularly happy to announce the entries which were commended:
Lives matter: A heuristic approach to prevent child mortality in rural India
Pallavi Dhall, Kantar, India
A market research approach to understanding and reaching high-risk men in South Africa with HIV testing and linkage to treatment
Shawn Malone, Population Services International (PSI), South Africa
Driving Change in Behaviour Management
Karan Sabnis, Kantar, India
Government Policies for the Disabled vs. the Ground Reality
Divya Meenakshy Harish, Brandscapes Worldwide, India
How Research Proves a Difference was Made
Will Goodhand, Survivors Fund SURF, United Kingdom
Identifying nudges for the growth of women in Bhap, Rajasthan
Madhur Mohan (Kantar) & Niyati Taggarsi (Ormax Consultants), India
The ESOMAR Foundation wishes to thank all those who participated in the competition. We aim to promote and highlight the excellent case-studies – to encourage the use of more insightful and inventive research for massively increasing the overall impact of market research in building a better world!
When talking about market research we usually discuss its commercial applications, such as product testing. Less is known about its contribution to the common good, even though development is a multi-billion sector. We ask several non-profits how data supports them in their powerful, world-improving endeavours – from making invisible street children visible, to tracking the spread of Ebola outbreaks.
Rebecca Lim is Head of Our Better World (OBW), the digital storytelling initiative of the Singapore International Foundation, whose aim is to strengthen mutual understanding between global communities as well as enrich lives and effect positive change. The research that supports this work won an award at this year’s first edition of the ESOMAR Foundation ‘Making a Difference Competition’. Lim stresses the importance of reliable facts. “The data we have from our analytics informs us about what our online audiences are interested in, what they’re clicking on, and it guides us in our storytelling.”
OBW shares stories from non-profits from across Asia in video, photo and text form, to create a bigger awareness of good causes. The goal is to entice people to support them, says Lim. “It’s critical for us to have data, because that gives us insights and helps us get better in how we tell stories and how we get our audiences involved in the different causes.”
When the platform started six years ago, there was no research in digital storytelling for social impact in Asia. Primary research was needed to understand national psyches and uncover drivers of culturally and socially relevant story themes, to better connect with audiences. Only by understanding this, would OBW be able to nurture and grow an online community of action takers.
OBW approached Kantar Millward Brown to form a partnership to undertake this primary research. The study into digital audiences demonstrated how different triggers inspire people to act. “In India, for instance, the aspect of social change is most important. People want to be able to play a role in changing a flawed system. Having that insight, we created a video story about child sexual abuse in the country. This started a conversation online and many people approached the non-profit Cactus Foundation with stories about their abuse experiences, including a 70-year old lady. This also resulted in over 1000 volunteer enquiries to the Cactus Foundation. So that was really powerful.”
“We’re all about real stories, especially in this age of fake news, we feel these are all the more relevant.”
With such sensitive topics, it’s crucially important that Our Better World has access to the most reliable data. In case of a dispute or even a denial of social injustice, the organisation can always substantiate its stories by referring to data sets from credible sources. “We’re all about real stories,” stresses Lim. “Especially in this age of fake news, we feel these are all the more relevant.”
Another winner in the ESOMAR Foundation ‘Making a Difference Competition’ 2018 is the Surgo Foundation, a privately funded action tank which partners with organisations and governments to help unlock some of their biggest challenges. “Our key principle is data,” says the foundation’s Co-Founder & Executive Director, Sema Sgaier. She explains that this is a multi-billion sector. Each year over 170 billion dollars is spent to improve the lives of people who live in poverty. This money is spent by multinationals, governments, donors etc. “It’s a pretty data-heavy sector. The question is how this data is being collected and used.”
As an example of smart data use, Sgaier tells about increasing the coverage of vaccines and immunisation to save children’s lives. “Spreading the vaccines is usually quite successful, but what’s lagging is the usage. We’re failing to treat the users as customers of a product because we don’t understand the detailed ecosystem they live in. So we try to close that gap with data and insights that are not traditional in the sector. With these we can design programs that improve the uptake of these services.”
The people whose lives the Surgo Foundation is trying to improve, are what Sgaier describes as populations who are in the dark to the private sector. “For example, many big brand products don’t reach places in rural India. Big manufacturers don’t reach these people through research. So for us, the challenge is to get the data, both on a large scale and on a detailed, deep level.” In order to get the much-needed facts, the foundation has developed its own multi-disciplined teams. It also partners with NGO’s, governments and large suppliers such as Ipsos, who have data collecting teams on the ground, as well as with start-ups who have developed new methodologies. “It really is a collaborative effort,” says Sgaier.
What distinguishes the Surgo Foundation within the non-profit field is its use of private sector-type insights in the public domain. “As an innovation lab, we’re trying to bring methodologies and approaches to the development sector that are not common, and in many ways are unique there. One example would be psycho-behavioural segmentation. In market research it is bread and butter, but in development it is new. In our sector we tend to look at demographics, at age, not at psycho-behavioural profiles. We’re really trying to shift the sector in its approach to thinking about data and how to collect it.”
Hugo Rukavina is Systems & Information Manager at StreetInvest, a International Development NGO that wants to improve the opportunities and safety of street children around the world. The organisation aims to better inform and positively influence stakeholders through research, data collection and advocacy. “To do this we need to demonstrate the impact of street work on street-connected children,” says Rukavina. “Research and data are key to supporting street-connected children. Without it, we do not know where they are or how best to support them.”
“The absence of this data makes these children invisible.”
Street-connected children exist in every country of the world, yet the lack of systematically collected and disaggregated data means StreetInvest does not know how many there are. “The lack of a standard methodology for counting them results in data which is contested and which lacks credibility. The absence of this data makes these children invisible, which leads to policies not being developed or measures that are ad hoc, temporary or short-term.”
StreetInvest’s headcounting methodology has been recognised as the sector-preferred approach to counting street-connected children, and has been used by a range of partners, including UNICEF. It seeks to provide a standardised, scalable, rights-respecting approach to collecting quantitative data on the number of street-connected children in a specified geographical location, explains Rukavina. “This data can then be disaggregated in by age, gender, disability and activities. The analysis and dissemination of this data is intended to inform the design of policies and programmes which affect street-connected children.”
The numbers have to be absolutely correct. Inaccurate data does not help street-connected children. Wildly inflated numbers can make policy makers and the public believe it’s an unsolvable problem because there is just too many of them in need of support. “Some NGOs may inflate numbers to attract funding, or they are simply based on poor estimates. Underreporting may have the opposite effect: if there is no hard data to show the existence of street-connected children in an area, the authorities can easily dismiss it as a minor issue that doesn’t require intervention.”
Bringing a wide group of stakeholders together, including governments, is one of the positive outcomes of StreetInvest’s headcount, says Rukavina. “It is not just about getting data, the process is also about bringing people and stakeholders together to reach a common understanding of the issues facing street-connected children, and that working with them in a rights-based and child-centred way is the best way to support them.”
Marie Stafford is European Director for the Innovation Group, JWT, an in-house futures consultancy that delivers trends, insight and thought leadership to its clients. She’s long been an advocate of businesses sharing their data for the common good. “If we agree that business has a role to play in helping to build a better world, then data philanthropy offers another route to achieving that goal. A lot of important data is held by businesses and organisations can’t get access.”
“Companies have an obligation to help solve social problems and this is an attitude they will bring to the workplace.”
The conversation is growing, she observes. Although she describes data philanthropy as still an emerging field, Stafford does see many signs of it gaining momentum. “Some data suggest that use of the hashtag #dataforgood has gone up by around 68 per cent in the last year. I think participation will definitely grow, but it’s going to take time. Participation is being driven by data scientists themselves, keen to put their skills to positive use outside the day job. Generation Z thinks companies have an obligation to help solve social problems and this is an attitude they will bring to the workplace. Gartner is now predicting that by 2020, employers with a data for good programme will have 20 per cent higher retention rates for data scientists. So it’s going to be a good way to motivate valuable talent.”
“Business has a role to play in helping to build a better world, then data philanthropy offers another route to achieving that goal.”
Stafford adds that consumers also rate ‘good’ companies higher. “Data philanthropy is just one way in which companies can demonstrate those values and pursue a social mission, and they have a big role to play in its future.” In a recent study JWT conducted on sustainability, 89 per cent of people across the UK, USA, China and Australia said they wanted to know more about companies’ efforts in the space. “I think in the contexts where it is appropriate and relevant, brands could involve consumers in the process, by actively eliciting their support for data sharing, even if this goes beyond the current legal requirements. At the end of the day data is generated by people, so it’s their data. It’s only right that they should also be able to take some credit for any positive impact.”
Marie Stafford believes companies already hold data that can be put to work for good. She lists examples of data philanthropy:
IBM has a programme that connects its scientists with NGOs and academics.
DataKind is an organisation with global chapters that can match data scientists and analysts with causes that need help.
UPS donated handheld parcel-tracking devices that were used to help distribute supplies to refugees in Mauritanian camps.
Vodafone shares anonymised smartphone data with the Ghanaian government on human population movements, in order to track the spread of Ebola outbreaks.
Waze shared data on traffic flows to help academics tackle air pollution in Mexico City.
US food safety officers have used consumer review data from Yelp to help them prioritise their inspections.
Syngenta shared agricultural efficiency data gathered from more than 3,000 farms.
Intel and Google have been helping the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children track down trafficked children more rapidly through visual recognition and artificial intelligence.
Ghislain Mukuna is Program Manager of the ADMIRE project, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. All around the world, CRS is using new technologies to understand and visualize data. “This helps us extract practical information that can lead to improved programming, expanded impact, and better insights on different issues,” says Mukuna. He gives an example: CRS’ data from DRC shows that girls miss more school days than boys. “Better menstrual hygiene management could help address this problem, but we found that inadequate infrastructure, lack of equipment and knowledge are obstacles to better menstrual hygiene management, whether at school or at home.”
Mukuna feels there’s a good chance the community can break the taboo around menstruation if the issue becomes part of the discussions in the community. “This remains a hypothesis, because the pilot hasn’t yet taken place, but we would like to test approaches that would improve knowledge about puberty and menstruation by facilitating communication between adolescents and their parents on taboo subjects.” Indeed, studies in the DRC have demonstrated that parents are adolescents’ main sources of information on menstruation.
At CRS they are optimistic that this pilot will lead to a high impact, given the positive response of the community to the results of this research. “Working together, we believe we can change the current menstrual hygiene management situation in communities.” The exchange of information is crucial, adds Mukuna. “We want to share insights like this one with CRS staff, partners and other stakeholders to leverage lessons learned and draw the public’s attention to an issue so we can work together to create a better world.”
A review by Phyllis Macfarlane, ESOMAR Foundation Board Member
At the beginning of May I had the unprecedented pleasure of attending the UN SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Festival of Action, which has been held annually in Bonn, Germany, since the SDG’s were launched in 2015. I just can’t tell you how energizing and inspiring it is to be in the company of 1500 mostly young people (I think I might have been the oldest person there!) who are all doing their best to make the world a better place – either through their jobs or by setting up their own NfP organisations (or both). And it was fun, as well!
The Festival aims to share different perspectives, test and accelerate new ideas, and build an environment where the SDGs become a priority for political engagement, democratic participation and personal behaviour, while deepening the coalition for SDG action. That’s what it says on the website. For me what came across was the emphasis on personal action – that unless we each take action as individuals then things won’t change. One of the overall themes was the ‘butterfly effect’ – the phenomenon that small actions started in one place can have big consequences all around the world, and …
Float likeabutterfly, sting like a bee,
The hand can’t hit what the eye can’t see…
…was the very unexpected quotation we had thrown at us at the beginning of the second day’s plenary session.
Both surprising and unexpected because it sounds quite aggressive, and the first day had been very celebratory, showcasing the Awards and all that had been achieved. But on the second day we settled down to the serious business of facing up to how much still needs to be done – hence to the emphasis on individual action – and also to an exploration of measurement (my favourite subject!). So the phrase –the hand can’t hit what the eye can’tsee… is actually extremely relevant. You will remember that ESOMAR Foundation supports Paragon Partnerships, and that Paragon’s main objective is to help the UNmeasure progress with the SDG’s.
I was at the Festival with Hayk Gyuzalyan, expert social researcher, at the invitation of the UN SDG Action Group, and representing Paragon Partnerships. I was invited to be a judge of the UN SDG Action Awards, and Hayk to talk about the questionnaire library that we (mostly he) has developed to measure awareness and perceptions of progress with the SDG’s at country level.
Judging the Awards was an awesome experience – they had over 2000 entries from 142 countries and the quality was unbelievably high. These are very prestigious awards. There were 7 categories: innovators, mobilizers, connectors, storytellers, communicators, visualizers and includers – clever names, aren’t they? All themes and activities which help spread good deeds and the word across the globe!
I was on the judging panel for Story tellers and Visualisers, and I presented the Award for the Visualiser category. The winner was my personal favourite: Safecity – who have created a platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces, in India. This data gets aggregated as hot spots on a map indicating trends at a very local level. The idea is to make this data useful for individuals, local communities and local administration (like the police!) to identify factors that causes behaviour that leads to violence and work on strategies for solutions. It allows us a new perspective at looking at the problem and trying to solve it. or sexual violence
Hayk spoke at a session on MyWorld which is an online questionnaire/survey about awareness of the SDG’s – we, as researchers, want a proper nationally representative random sample approach, and can be a bit ‘sniffy’ about unrepresentative samples – but for the UN SDG Action Group there’s also the concept of the survey as a voice of the people – of those who care. Governments have to take notice of such ‘voices’ these days.
So, two new concepts to think about : firstly research as an expression of popular tension – like a petition – the voice of those who care enough to say something – and secondly the new power of youth expressing through individual actions the desire for global change, justice, peace and equality – in many ways the exact opposite of current political ‘populist’ thinking movements which are about conservatism and localness, preservation of the status quo and suspicion of others/outsiders. Technology is, of course, the new enabler, for everyone, but the leadership and commitment of the young people that I met in Bonn, makes me bet that they’ll win in the long run.
As from all good events, I came away with a different perspective – full of respect for the young people who want to change the world and are not going to be beaten down – but also with a new view of research as a ‘voice ‘for the NfP sector. And, after all, that’s what ESOMAR Foundation and Paragon are all about – we want donors and implementors to do research to listen to the voice of the people they are trying to help. And, by listening better, to make more of a difference.
Paragons Partnerships member, UN SDG Action Campaign is running the 2nd edition of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Awards.
The United Nations SDG Action Campaign is a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General administered by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and mandated to support the UN system-wide and the Member States on advocacy and public engagement in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) implementation. The UN SDG Action Campaign aims to mobilize and inspire individuals and organizations to take action and join the global movement for the SDGs, while connecting people’s actions and perceptions with decision makers in SDG planning and review processes at all levels.
The UN SDG Action Campaign inspires and empowers people with knowledge, platforms and tools to share their opinions and experiences and actively contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The UN SDG Action Awards recognize the most brilliant individuals, civil society organizations, subnational governments, foundations, networks, private sector leaders who are working on SDG advocacy to advance the global movement for the Sustainable Development Goals in the most transformative, impactful and innovative way.
To enter a project or initiative please prepare the application by filling in this form.
The window for submissions runs until 30 January 2019 with all shortlisted finalists being notified by March.
Violence against women is a global problem that crosses cultural, geographic, religious, social and economic lines. It is one of the most prevalent forms of human rights violations, and it deprives women of their right to live fulfilling social, economic and political lives. Violence against women causes a myriad of physical and mental health issues that span generations, and in some extreme cases, it can result in the loss of life.
Understanding the magnitude and trends of violence against women, as well as its root causes and consequences, is key to effectively addressing the problem at the individual, community and national levels. However, up until recently, very little was known about the actual prevalence and patterns of violence against women, especially domestic violence, in Mongolia. For the longest time, authorities depended only on the number of reported cases of domestic violence to estimate its prevalence in the country. But in most societies, including Mongolia, domestic violence is still surrounded by stigma and many incorrect notions, and so many cases go unreported.
To address this crucial gap in information, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Mongolia, together with the national government and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), initiated the first ever nationwide study on gender-based violence (GBV) in the country. This is an important first step in a comprehensive four-year endeavor to combat GBV in Mongolia by strengthening national capacity for GBV prevention and response. With this study, policies and projects addressing GBV can be planned, developed, implemented, monitored and evaluated based on accurate data.
The nationwide study uncovered a multitude of issues and information on GBV in Mongolia, including the prevalence, forms, causes, risk factors, and effects of GBV. The study combined quantitative data based on the methodology developed by the World Health Organization for their Study on Violence Against Women, together with qualitative data based on methodologies used in other countries. While these borrowed methodologies and survey instruments were revised according to the nuances of Mongolian culture and context, adopting internationally used methodologies allowed for international comparisons and a solid substantiation of the indicators and targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Given the ambitious scale of the project, UNFPA deemed it fit for the Mongolian National Statistics Office (NSO) to implement and manage the study. After all, as a government agency, their resources are already available for mobilization throughout the country. UNFPA provided extensive technical support to NSO, bringing in experts both from the UNFPA Mongolia office as well as its Asia-Pacific Regional Office. These experts guided NSO every step of the way – from developing the survey and planning its execution to enumerator training, from data analysis to report writing.
For the quantitative component of the study, a population-based household survey covering all 21 provinces of Mongolia and 9 districts of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar was implemented from May to June 2017. A total of 7,920 women (98% response rate) aged 15 to 64 years old were selected using a multi-stage sampling strategy to take part in face-to-face interviews for the survey. They represent all women aged 15-64 years old in Mongolia.
UNFPA and NSO also took extra measures to ensure that these women spoke candidly so that the study may accurately represent the true GBV situation in the country. The interviewers, who were all women, underwent an intensive three-week training to learn to collect information in a safe and sensitive way. The interviewers also referred to the study as “Women’s Health and Life Experience” to protect the interviewees and to encourage participation especially among households where GBV takes place.
To supplement the quantitative data, UNFPA and NSO added a qualitative component that is unique to Mongolia’s GBV study. A third-party research consulting firm was engaged to conduct a battery of qualitative methods to explain and validate the numerical results and to uncover details about the experiences of Mongolians in a way that the quantitative survey could not. Overall, 87 in-depth interviews, 59 key informant interviews, and 64 focus group discussions were conducted among not only women, but also the LGBTQI community, men, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
Combining the qualitative and quantitative methodologies produced a study with robust results that were analyzed in a more comprehensive and nuanced way. The study revealed the prevalence of the five forms of violence against women – physical, sexual, emotional, and economic violence as well as controlling behaviors – perpetrated by both partners and non-partners. The data was segregated by age group, province, urbanity, educational level, employment status, and partnership status. Additionally, the study also looked into the specific kind of violent acts per type of violence, as well as the underlying toxic beliefs and attitudes toward gender and relationships that contributed to the prevalence of GBV.
With the publication of the nationwide study, a communications campaign was launched to raise awareness about these statistics; the results were published in both English and Mongolian, multimedia content was produced, events were staged, and the raw data was made available to the public for free for their own analysis.
However, the numbers revealed by the study were staggering that conversations were forced among stakeholders. The survey showed that that more than half (57.9%) of Mongolian women experienced one or more forms of violence in their lifetime, and one in every three (31.2%) experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. More worrying still is that more often than not, the abuse is committed by their partner. These numbers were much higher than expected, and both government officials and the general public alike were forced to pay attention to what used to be the silent suffering of many. Longtime advocates of gender equality and the fight against GBV finally had the right data that can be used not only to create more relevant and better targeted initiatives, but also to persuade stakeholders, especially the national government, to invest resources in combating GBV.
Guided by the results of the study, UNFPA Mongolia, together with the national government and the SDC, was able to pinpoint ten locations for One Stop Service Centers, i.e., establishments that provide survivors of GBV with accommodations as well as health, psychological, legal, counselling, and protection services. These locations were chosen primarily on the basis of highest GBV prevalence rates compared to the national average, but with consideration given to geographical and population balance.
The high prevalence rates revealed by the study coupled with the tireless advocacy work of UNFPA and civil society actors convinced provincial authorities to invest financial and human resources toward GBV prevention and response in their territories. In 2018, 560 million Mongolian Tugriks (approx. USD 210,000) was invested by provincial governments toward the construction and operations of these One Stop Service Centers. This amount is almost double the amount spent by the Mongolian government in the last five years combined.
Beyond these initiatives, the results also proved useful for UNFPA and its implementing partners for behavior change campaigns. The data segregation allowed UNFPA and the Government of Mongolia to identify the most vulnerable demographics to target, while identification of the root causes of GBV guided the development of relevant and data-driven messages, particularly for campaigns that sought to educate the public about life skills and healthy relationship behaviors that can help them avoid and escape GBV.
With all the initiatives spurred toward combating GBV in Mongolia since the release of the landmark nationwide GBV study, its important role in the advocacy work to raise awareness and garner stakeholder support cannot be ignored. In fact, UNFPA is working closely with NSO and other key government ministries to amend the National Statistics Law to include the regular conduct of a nationwide GBV survey to better guide and monitor the work put into combating GBV in Mongolia in the coming years. Mongolia may still have a long way to go in the path toward eradicating GBV, but with reliable data, innovative solutions, and the untiring advocacy of many, there is surely hope that someday, we may have a violence-free society where the rights of women, children and men are respected and protected.