International Day of the Girl – Contraceptive information for adolescents

October 11, 2020


To discuss the cultural barriers in accessing contraceptive information and services among adolescents.To explore the various ways in which media can be used to pass credible information to adolescents on contraception methods and services.To explore the effectiveness of applying Human Centered Design (HCD) in AYSRH implementation.


Himanshu Kumar 

Events and Convening Associate, HCDExchange

Elizabeth Okumu

Program Manager, TICHAH Kenya ​

Eden Befekadu

Designer, PSI Ethiopia

Barriers to contraception Access and use of media to improve communication – Himanshu Kumar


  • There is a lot of diversity around the use of contraceptives in India.  However,  cultural barriers pose the greatest threat to contraceptives use  beyond adolescents. 
  • The use of contraceptives is considered a taboo and against God’s will in most parts of India. Use of contraception is also further complicated  by child marriages. Women are expected to conceive within two years of marriages. Therefore failure to conceive can be viewed by society  as going against norms.
  • We can consider improving various forms of media especially social media since it creates a personal connection with audience. We can also leverage new media channels like memes to stay relevant. Most importantly are mobile phones.

Safe spaces for adolescents to have conversations on sexual and reproductive health – Elizabeth Okumu


  • Safe spaces are build to have honest, respectful, and non-judgemental discussions conversations about sexual and reproductive health. this build confidence among young people and encourages story sharing.
  • Safe spaces are also meant to promote diversity. decision making can be varied based on situations. Safe spaces should also target myths and misconceptions .
  • Comprehensive sexuality education in  is critical in providing adolescents with information during adolescence. We can also leverage written materials, gaming, television,  answering reproductive health questions and how to get services.

Human Centered Design and its application in programming – Eden Befekadu


  • HCD is creative approach to problem solving where users (people) are placed at the center of the solution. Designers immerse themselves in the lives of the user.
  • It involves coming up with new ideas generated out of feedback from the users, development of prototypes which are tested with the users and iterations to come up with the final solution. HCD ensures that the end-users are involved throughout the entire process. 
  • HCD has also been used to design health programs. PSI used HCD to design Smart Start to support rural young girls’  aspirations based on self defined goals and dreams in Ethiopia.

Key Points 

  • While there are still strong cultural barriers and stigmas relating to contraceptive use among adolescents, social media and exposure to newer media forms is continuing to expand knowledge and change perceptions.
  • While discussions can be difficult around taboos and cultural barriers to contraception access and use among adolescents,  putting young people at the center of the discussions and decision making process is key. 
  • Youth should be encouraged to share their experiences without fear of being laughed at, and without judgment. 
  • Government and development partners should consider diverse information sharing platforms to disseminate sexual reproductive health communication material. channels should reach both marginalized and accessible audience.

Follow-up Questions 

  • What are the challenges one can face while rolling out social media as means of sharing information on contraception access and teenage?
  • Is there any evidence on the effectiveness of using media to target adolescents with information on contraception compared to other media platforms.
  • What are consideration one needs to make while planning to use HCD as a tool for designing programs targeting adolescents and youth?
  • What are the challenges associated with using HCD in developing adolescent targeted programs?

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