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Like other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia has a disproportionately young population and there is a desperate need for youth-friendly family planning services. That’s why our team in Zambia have worked with IDEO.org to come up with the Divine Divas – an exciting new way of talking to young Zambians about contraception.
Seventy-five percent of Zambia’s population is under the age of 25 and fifty percent is under the age of 15. Although the vast majority of teenagers are sexually active, only a small percentage of them use family planning.
Often they don’t learn about contraception until after their first unplanned pregnancy, when it’s already too late. As a result, HIV prevalence is rising and around eighty percent of unsafe abortions occur among women under 19 years old.
Introducing the Divine Divas
Engaging with youth can be challenging, but through a partnership with IDEO.org, Marie Stopes Zambia has used insight into the lives of young Zambians to create new ways of talking about contraception that young people can relate to.
One of these initiatives has been the creation of the Divine Divas – a cast of cartoon characters who bring the family planning message to life.
Each Diva has a personality to represent a contraceptive method – the implant for Ms Ambition, the pill for Ms Perfection, the injection for the Girl on the Go – helping young women relate to them and making contraception a more acceptable topic of conversation.
The Divas have taken centre stage in a redesign of MS Zambia’s information, education and communication materials, putting a youth spin on our tried and tested family planning communication tools.
What’s next for the Divas?
The initiative will be tested in more depth in the coming months, with plans for MS Zambia to set up a Divine Diva youth space, where young people will be invited to stop by and ask questions, access services or just grab a drink and chat.
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