The Divine Divas: Beauty and brains – pop-up salon educates African teens about reproductive health

Combining pampering with health care, teens in Zambia can now have a manicure while receiving an essential education about safe sex, as well as access to clinic services.

A lack of sexual education can lead to a wealth of physical and emotional issues. In Sub-Sahara Africa, there are currently 24.7 million people living with HIV – one of the most life-threatening sexuality transmitted diseases. In a bid to improve the standard of health services in Zambia – where sexual education is often neglected – the Divine Divas were born through a detailed research and design process performed in Lusaka.

The Divine Divas team found that teenage girls are much more comfortable sharing their experiences, and asking questions about sex while participating in fun social activities. In response to this, a pop-up nail salon was established allowing the team to talk to girls about safe sex and the options they have to protect themselves – all without the clinical jargon. In addition to the salon, the ‘Divine Divas’ were then developed into five inspirational characters, each representing a different form of contraception. The characters bring these methods to life by making qualities of each method relatable and memorable. They make talking about contraceptives and reproductive health a conversation about lifestyle rather than side effects, and help teens understand how this decision would fit into their lives. Once the girls and women are adequately informed, The Diva Centre clinics also offer health services, such as IUDs, the pill and other contraceptive options.

The peer-to-peer engagement project has now directly connected hundreds of girls to reproductive health services, where they can make informed decisions and receive the vital protection they need. The programme will hopefully expand their effective method throughout other parts of Southern Africa.

DESIGNED BY: IDEO.ORG, MARIE STOPES INTERNATIONAL AND THE HEWLETT FOUNDATION
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
REGIONS OF USE: AFRICA
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