The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world – reaching each country, state and city in various ways as governments react differently to the danger it presents.
At Global G.L.O.W., our work in 23 countries, including across the U.S., has provided us with a first-hand view of the various ways communities have reacted to and been affected by the pandemic. Specifically, we know that girls are disproportionately affected when pandemics arise, and these inequities are no different during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As COVID-19 hit around the world, our team made a conscious decision to pause our in-person GLOW Clubs, much as meeting in-person for public education came to a halt. The GLOW Club model necessitates groups of 20+ girls meet together to learn, support each other and have fun. And ideally, those girls meet together in one place.
In lieu of in-person programming at that time, our team worked with partners on the ground to ensure that young girls felt supported to advocate for themselves and their communities during the pandemic. We encouraged many girl-led, virtual projects, such as a radio program from G.L.O.W. girls in Sierra Leone, who embraced the radio culture born during the Ebola crisis to communicate information on COVID-19 to other girls in their community.
Fortunately, however, many areas have started to slowly re-open, and we can begin to resume our in-person GLOW Clubs. Many of our sites are still waiting for their governments to re-open schools or give them further guidance so they can re-open Clubs along with them. But, some of our partners have already started to re-open Clubs and we wanted to share with you the insightful messages from them about what the world looks like now:
Our partner ASCHIANA in Kabul, Afghanistan, talked about hope with the girls during their in-person Clubs, instructing them to write their wishes on a balloon and release those wishes into the air. Most of them wished for peace and harmony in the country, along with other, specific hopes such as the re-opening of their schools.
In Cote D’ivoire at Education and English For You, our partners are beginning to conduct Global G.L.O.W. activities developed for returning to Clubs post-COVID restrictions. These activities allow the Club members in the safety of their group to discuss the challenges they faced during COVID “safer at home” measures.
In the United States, most schools began virtual learning in March, and many Clubs administered virtual programs along with them. Our Clubs in the Bronx were swift to check in virtually with girls, host Club meetings and continue operations as usual in a virtual platform setting. As the cases of COVID-19 continue to climb throughout the U.S., many of our Clubs are exploring how to maintain this virtual Club model for the Fall.
Many Clubs are focusing their efforts on printing and distributing Global G.L.O.W. take-home packets to girls at their homes to maintain support for young girls as we continue to work through this pandemic. We are finding ways to encourage and work with girls via telephone, social media and virtual activities. As we continue to act responsibly and protect one another, we are thrilled to see our partners finding innovative ways to continue to advocate for and support girls in GLOW Clubs.
Crystal Sprague is the Executive Director of Global G.L.O.W. and oversees the strategic direction and implementation of all programming for the organization. A long-standing advocate for girls and women around the world, Crystal has 15+ years of experience working with mission-led organizations, including over 12 years of direct practice with at-risk youth in the US and internationally.