OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Advancing Women and Girls in Developing Countries in the post-COVID World through P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement Career Enhancement)

We aim to bring our behavioral change program for women to build resilience, confidence, and life skills for a post-COVID future.

Photo of Gail Gershon
0 0

Written by

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. 

What is the need are you focusing on?

We are focused on serving vulnerable women and girls in developing countries, bringing them skills, confidence, and new behaviors to protect their health and livelihoods, and that of their families. 

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Sharing a pivot idea your organization is considering or could consider

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

Previously, the P.A.C.E. program relied on a highly participatory, in-person training format. We are pivoting toward new ways to deliver training that combine digital and distance learning with in-person forms of connectivity, looking for innovations that will allow us to continue to serve this vulnerable audience at a time when in-person convenings are not possible.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

These innovations will enable our NGO partners, schools, governmental partners, and the factories currently running the P.A.C.E. program, to continue to scale the program at the local, regional, and national level. Collectively, these entities serve millions of women and girls, so the potential to reach high numbers is significant.

What is the name of your business or organization?

Gap Foundation & Gap Inc.

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

Gap Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Gap Inc., parent company of Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, Janie & Jack, and Intermix clothing brands.

What is your profession?

Corporate social responsibility professional

Where are you located (country)?

United States

Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Non-Profit/Philanthropy

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 11-49

How old is your business/company?

  • 10 or more years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Business

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

Seeking assistance on innovation for new forms of training and knowledge sharing.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

May require new uses of technology and new ways to connect -- new innovations beyond existing digital delivery or distance learning -- need a way to provide participatory interaction for behavioral change outcomes

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

Very preliminary experimentation have shown that we can deliver quality training with high impact, but need to find ways to scale for larger roller out, and there are surely other innovations we haven't yet considered.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?


Website URL
View more

Attachments (2)


One-page fact sheet with key metrics on impact and scope of the program.

Gap Inc.'s P.A.C.E. Program.pdf

The attached is a two-page overview of P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement Career Enhancement), Gap Inc.'s educational and life skills training program for women and girls. To date, the program has reached over 500,000 women and girls across 17 countries. This overview includes links to 3rd party evaluation studies that measure the impact of the program on participants.


Join the conversation: