The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project NEW!
From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Springster: Building girls’ knowledge, resilience and self-belief through storytelling

Entered in Storytelling

About this entry

The world is getting better connected every day. Over 3.77 billion people now use the internet and two-thirds of the global population have a mobile phone. Over the next five years, two out of every three potential new mobile subscribers will be female.

With increased digital engagement come huge opportunities to reach and connect some of the most marginalised and isolated global citizens: vulnerable girls.

But vulnerable girls rarely find what they need in the online world and rarely get the opportunity to share stories online. Content that caters to girls needs is difficult to find, and topics that they want to explore aren't covered in a way that makes sense to her. Often, content that does exist actually entrenches negative stereotypes.

We know that girls' critical lack of knowledge and confidence prevents them from identifying and reaching their goals in life. We know that girls benefit from the reassurance and advice generated by sharing stories and experiences from other girls like them.

That's where Girl Effect comes in. Together with Facebook Free Basics, we created Springster. Springster is a first of its kind mobile website for girls and by girls, where they can feel safe online and can read, write and share stories that support and celebrate themselves and each other. We created the Springster to help girls unlock new attitudes and beliefs and shaping the way they view their role in society as a result.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Springster is the product of a research and insights-led collaborative development process, conducted through workshops across Africa and the wider world with over 350 girls, over 100 boys and a number of parents, experts and influencers.

We develop and release content all over the world, with Springster active in 66 markets, but here, we will focus on South Africa. This market was identified as having a huge opportunity to empower vulnerable girls through mobile. We looked at total potential reach, return users, depth of interactions with content, mobile penetration, and barriers girls face and ability of mobile to help overcome these barriers.

We carried out deep formative research in South Africa to gain a rich understanding of the Springster target girl in South Africa – her world, hopes and needs. These findings informed our content strategy and to understand how we could make a positive impact on girls' lives.

The research revealed that girls growing up in South Africa face a wide range of barriers - marriage and motherhood at a young age, sexual violence, intense pressure to contribute economically or stay home from school to support their households. Whilst each girl faces a unique set of challenges and pressures, we knew that girls around the world also benefit from reassurance and advice generated by shared stories and experiences from other girls like them.

Working with local content teams, we create stories that are tailored to the challenges girls in South Africa face everyday: everything from how to help their families financially, to how to make meaningful friendships, to how to navigate puberty. These stories communicate important messages through language that feels personal and real. We want our readers to relate to our persona - 'Gabi', who plays the role of a big sister' - so content is designed to feel informal and familiar - just like an older sister or trusted friend who is sharing their experience through telling a story.

Springster gives girls the reassurance and advice that they are looking for by sharing stories and experiences from other girls like them. Delivering vital information through compelling and carefully curated stories, Springster encourages girls to come back and discover more. Opportunities to write and share stories combined with features such as commenting on articles or polls and reaction options turns girls into content creators, allowing girls to not only express themselves, but to engage with each other and share their stories in a safe environment. In so doing, Springster creates positive change in girls' lives by building their knowledge, resilience and self-belief.


Springster's impact measurement shows how reading stories on Springster shapes offline behaviour, leading to a dramatic shift in girls' knowledge, attitudes and actions. This is truly pioneering. For example, girls we have spoken to in user-feedback sessions gave many examples of Springster stories that have inspired their confidence and occasions when they have engaged in a behaviour change. The story about having the courage to raise their hand in class was a very popular; girls could directly relate to it and give examples of how they had been too intimidated to do this before, but since reading the story had been proud to raise their hand

"Stories help me learn to be open to other people – I'm able to be confident and open". Girl, Johannesburg, 15 yrs.

Girls the world over have told us how Springster stories have made a tangible impact in their lives, sometimes re-visiting stories time and time again, even committing them to memory - from overcoming everyday problems like how to save money, or start a difficult conversation with their parents - through to giving them confidence and becoming less isolated.

Springster's success lies in creating an inclusive and dynamic culture of sharing real-life experiences through storytelling. Girls not only learn from each other, but also cultivate their own sense of self-belief and resilience through telling their stories in their own words. Springster is enabling girls to gain the kind of knowledge and power they need to become agents of their own change, wherever they live.


Video for Springster: Building girls’ knowledge, resilience and self-belief through storytelling

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Girl Effect