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Girl Boy Empowerment and Parent Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

place Kenya + 1 more

Communication, Knowledge and Healthy Relationships are Key to Shifting the Culture of GBV

The Girl/Boy Empowerment and Parent programs were created in response to a spike in teen pregnancies and gender-based violence during the pandemic. As a result, through consultation with community stakeholders, Kenya Connect developed a three-tiered approach with a year-long Girl/Boy Empowerment Program for students, a four week workshop for parents and a community wide advocacy program.



HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

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Target group
Students lower
June 2024
Although our main goal is to reduce teen pregnancy and gender-based violence, one of the biggest changes we hope to see is children empowered to use their voice and who have the knowledge and agency to make decisions about their bodies. Our program is nurturing students to be confident, empathetic, brave and with a strong sense of self-worth and with dreams for the future.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

The Girl/Boy Empowerment and Parent programs were created in response to a spike in teen pregnancies and gender-based violence. In 2020 during the pandemic our county (Machakos) reported a record 3964 teen pregnancies in the course of 3 months. At our 63 partner public schools, 98 girls became pregnant with 26 of those in primary school.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

The year-long Girl/Boy Empowerment is dynamic. Students are playing games, doing role plays and discussing peer pressure, body boundaries, consent, respect and sex. They create songs about inappropriate touching that they share with other students at their school. They are engaging in a safe space and learning about ways to protect themselves and make informed decisions. Their parents are learning how to talk about the taboo topic of sexual reproduction and how to better communicate with their children on these and other topics. They, too, have a safe place to ask questions and seek guidance. Finally, we know that the culture of "looking the other way" has to change in order for children, especially girls, to be safe. A series of posters, PSAs, and pamphlets are being distributed for the community to amplify the program messages of where to get help, the importance of communication, and that gender-based violence will not be tolerated.

How has it been spreading?

The community is buzzing about our Girl/Boy Empowerment and Parent programs. Students are sharing what they have learned through the program and have even asked if they can be peer mentors! In rural communities, ideas are shared at water collection sites, churches, and community gatherings. Parents are talking about the Parent Sessions and other parents are asking for us to come to their community. Since we created the program with input from community stakeholders, they have been sharing about our work with others. In addition, having colorful eye-catching advocacy posters are creating conversations which, when combined with PSAs, is nurturing new conversations. Our staff has been presenting at conferences and sharing our work as we are codifying our curriculum to share.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Kenya Connect welcomes the opportunity to share our program with other NGOs through providing information about our approach and the curriculum outline. Our program has been tailored to the needs of the our rural community. However, other NGOs can add FGM or child marriage as part of the course content if needed. The key is for the program mentors to build trust and provide needed content.

Implementation steps

Meet with Stakeholders
It's essential that you meet with teachers, parents, and community leaders to determine what are the main challenges facing children/youth in regards to teen pregnancy and gender-based violence. It's important to share data that you collected on the prevalence of teen pregnancy and gender-based violence occurring. Asking for their feedback and ideas helps create a stronger program and encourages community-wide buy-in.
Identify Schools to Implement the program
Since this program is not a part of the formal curriculum, it is important to have partner schools who understand and support the program. Teacher and parent buy-in is essential. The school support is critical to giving the "seal of approval" for the program.
Select and Train Mentors
Kenya Connect's Girl/Boy Empowerment Program is designed for girls and boys to meet separately in one hour sessions with a mentor. It is essential to have mentors who are comfortable talking about sexual health and reproduction and ones that can foster conversations and who are enthusiastic to work with children. They also need to listen with a third ear as children share their emotions and thoughts.
Make the Program Fun and Meaningful
Discussing sexual reproduction and consent, respect and boundaries does not need to be dull. The curriculum is designed to be interactive with games, books, crafts, songs, and role play as a way to learn. Staring with a welcome song and including every student, builds trust and connection with the students. If the mentors find the content dull, the students will too.
Reflect on What is Working
After each session, our mentors talk together about how the lesson worked and what needs to be changed. Modification helps make the program stronger.
At the end of the program, student participants graduate from the Girl/Boy Empowerment. The ceremony is in front of other students, parents, and their teachers. They share what they have learned, sing songs they created (one song was about inappropriate touching), and they receive a certificate and t-shirt. For our rural students, it is a very special event. The graduation also sends signals to the larger community that gender-based violence will not be tolerated.
It's essential to continually evaluate the program by garnering feedback from students, teachers and parents through surveys and interviews.

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