Current and unfolding research tells us that COVID-19 will impact women differently than men, posing greater challenges to their livelihoods and ability to care for their families. Women and girls in the developing world are particularly vulnerable, and we need to equip these women with skills and knowledge that will allow them to earn money safely, protect themselves from domestic violence, and keep themselves and their children healthy. In the current and post-COVID world, we need ways to bring these skills and knowledge to women via new, innovative formats that don't require in-person convenings or other risky behaviors.
This type of training exists: Gap Inc.'s P.A.C.E. program. Launched in 2007, the P.A.C.E. Program was initially created to serve women working in apparel factories, and it has since expanded to serve women in other settings -- farms, villages, urban and rural communities -- in partnership with over 20 NGOs across 17 countries. To date P.A.C.E. has reached over 500,000 women and girls. Largely due to feedback from the participants, a version of the program for adolescent girls was launched in 2014 (there is a curriculum for girls ages 11 to 13, and a second for those who are 14 to 17). The impact on participants’ lives was documented by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and found that P.A.C.E. participants experience the following gains:
49% increase in self‐esteem
150% increase in self‐efficacy
119% increase in workplace efficacy
100% increase in workplace influence
The program uses a train-the-trainer program model, and Gap Inc. grants no-cost licenses that allow NGOs and other entities to use all intellectual property for free, which has created a scalable, sustainable model that has potential reach thousands, if not millions of additional women and girls in the coming years.
To evolve the program to better serve women and girls in the current and future context, we have started to digitize the content and experiment with new and different ways to connect with participants. Research tells us that moving 100% to digital or online training reduces impact, so we are seeking a hybrid model that combines digital and distance learning, with more limited in-person or virtual (but live) participatory activities.
We are seeking a partnership with IDEO to explore and activate new ways to train and interact with program participants. We believe that new approaches to interaction and training will be valuable for this particular population (women and girls in developing countries) and will also help advance training in other settings across sectors in the post-COVID world.