Coping with COVID: A Pandemic through Girls’ Eyes
When the COVID-19 pandemic triggered lockdowns around the world, Rooftop and UNICEF asked 16 teenage girls from nine countries to share their lives through the lens of a mobile phone. For five weeks between May and June 2020, the girls captured their ‘new normal’ and shared their thoughts – not just on COVID-19, but on all the heart-breaking challenges they face daily. The result? An emotional video series capturing the reality of being a young girl in a developing country during a global pandemic.
UNICEF and Rooftop’s Coping with COVID series was an unprecedented campaign made in unprecedented times, with no film crew, no fancy equipment and only virtual contact with the protagonists: 16 teenage girls from nine countries across the world.
The aim? To give young girls’ voices a chance to be heard. We used COVID-19, a globally relevant catalyst that everyone can identify with, to connect audiences with the other important issues that are intrinsic parts of these girls’ daily lives: being unable to finish their education, gender-based violence and the threat of child marriage.
This kind of long-form content, recorded over a period of weeks, was a new format for us and for UNICEF. Logistically, it was challenging: the entire project was conducted remotely, in line with COVID-19 guidelines across all countries, and not all the girls were technologically proficient. As a team we provided tutorials so that the girls could really take ownership of the project. The result was a video series that was unscripted and intimate, with the girls speaking candidly in a way that wouldn’t have happened with a film crew and cameras.
If the statistics are anything to go by, our global audience was as touched by the girls’ stories as we were. Halfway through the campaign the site had already had 232,000 web visits, an unprecedented figure for UNICEF. The web page for the series also made it into the COVID-19 Facebook portal, generating 120,000 visits with an average of 30 minutes on the page, meaning that most viewers stayed to watch more than one video each time.
But the power of our Coping with COVID project isn’t just measured in good statistics, clicks and views (although that’s always nice!). The real power of this project was in the girls’ stories: all we did was find a way to share them.