Girls in Bangladesh

Girl-led research: how we build power together

Girl-led research

An illustration from Bangladesh depicts the findings from Bangladesh, where girls talked about difficulties they faced during menstruation and Covid-19. Photo: ActionAid

Research summary

The research highlighted the economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic for adolescent girls, the ways in which their rights and support systems have been weakened or eroded, and the ways inequality has increased.

Whilst there are many nuances across contexts, in all research locations girls highlighted the impact of the pandemic on:

  • their mental health 
  • increasing levels of violence against women and girls (VAWG)
  • increasing levels of early forced and child marriage (EFCM)
  • increasing economic insecurity and their ability to access basic products, like menstrual hygiene products and healthy food
  • decreasing access to essential health services, especially to contraception and sexual health.

Too often, too many girls have limited options for making meaningful choices about their lives, but research also demonstrates opportunities for building power together with girls.

Girls are creating change, disrupting systems, and challenging patriarchy and unequal power every day. They hold solutions and power when they are able to come together.

The research process itself also gave girls an opportunity to build collective power, and 97% of participating girls reported believing more strongly in girls’ power to make positive change in their communities and girls’ greater power when they come together.


An artist worked with each girl-led team to design posters summarising key themes in each location, and this artwork supported girls to take action following the research in their communities – providing a visual that they could use to start critical conversations about the changes girls want to see. Thanks to Maitree Muzumdar for her designs.

Girl-led research

An illustration shows girls' struggle for safety on their streets. Photo: ActionAid


This girl-led research was designed and carried out in collaboration with groups of girls who participated in identifying relevant research questions, themes and people to interview, collected and analysed information, and contributed to this final report.

Download the girl-led research

Girls from Nepal who have been supported by ActionAid to attend school. Bahadur Sadaya/ActionAid.

Page updated 27 September 2022