Case Study — Young Women & COVID-19

Ewan Roxburgh
December 18, 2020
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Following the success of “A Feminist Future”, IWDA engaged Creativa to develop another animated story. This time, to share the stories of young women across Asia and the Pacific region as they reflect on their experiences of COVID-19.

This project has involved months of research and interviews with women from Cambodia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa. A cohort of young women was interviewed over Zoom, phone calls and a dedicated Facebook group, and asked to share how COVID-19 lockdowns and policy responses had shaped their home lives, work, education and their reflections on young women’s human rights.

These interviews formed the basis of the dialogue for “COVID-19: A message from young women”.


Young women in leadership during COVID-19


The brief for this project was to share some of the inspiring stories about young women’s leadership and resilience during the pandemic. The narrative focused on how these women were working together and making positive change happen. The story also portrayed the harm that COVID-19 has done.

The hardest part for me was working out what to cut. All the stories were so moving, sad or inspiring, I wanted to include it all! How could I cut this down to only three minutes?” said Co-Director and Producer, Dana Newell.

Once we had the ‘fish-bones’ or ‘story-structure’ approved, the narrative naturally fell into place. IWDA and Creativa worked closely together during this period through story development meetings.

It was important for the young women involved in the project to see themselves in the artwork throughout the animation. Co-Director and Designer Sarah Schwab illustrated the participating women as characters in the video, based on photos that they provided.


Stories of young women during the COVID-19 pandemic


The team wanted a mixture of metaphor and reality-based illustrations to give visual weight to the story. For example, a scene that showed fragmented islands re-joined by silver threads speaks to the way that young women are bringing their communities together.

The tricky thing here for us was not knowing how the metaphors would translate cross-culturally. The team managed this challenge by sharing early drafts with the project team and group of young women, and keeping them in the loop through the stages of production. We’re proud that the final piece creatively demonstrates the stories of these women in an engaging narrative that is true to their experiences.

COVID-19 restrictions created some challenges for the development process too. Unstable internet connections meant that the young women participants couldn’t record their voices for the narrative.

Instead, the team worked with voice actors from the same countries as the project participants. Directed through relayed messages and huddled in their own recording booths in their homes, we pulled together four separate voices and joined them together to show the audience the breadth of experience reflected in the narrative.



It was important for us to engage Alison Cole from Groove Q to compose original music once again. The music added to the drama of the piece. The project team had a strong idea that the music should sound modern and used a current pop song as their reference. Soul Music was also used as a heavy influence.

The end animation is a moving work of art. Every frame has meaning and reference to real people through illustration, resonant voices and original music.

The animation has been translated into six languages and will be shared through social media.

Special thanks to the IWDA team and young women participants for inviting us to produce this important message, for conducting the original interviews and for helping to shape this story.



PRODUCER: Dana Newell
DIRECTORS: Sarah Schwab / Dana Newell
WRITER: Colab between Creativa and IWDA
DESIGNER: Sarah Schwab
ANIMATOR: Holly Campbell




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