Project Lead(s): Julius Nguku
Inequalities between men and women are created and reinforced by gender roles, leaving women especially vulnerable to infections with HIV and other STIs, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In this region, for every one HIV-positive young man who is 15–24 years old, there are three HIV-positive young women.
The Bold Idea for Girls (BIG) project team sought to show that providing an integrated program of HIV evidence-based behavioural interventions (EBIs), gender and life-skills, and vocational and entrepreneurial skills to girls aged 15–24 years in urban informal settlements could increase knowledge and practice of HIV/STI prevention and raise their social-economic status.
Specific objectives of BIG were to: increase uptake of HIV interventions and adoption of HIV-safe behaviours; enhance self-esteem, assertiveness and decision-making skills; and increase employability skills.
The BIG project innovatively integrated evidence-based HIV prevention interventions with economic empowerment to improve health outcomes for 546 girls aged 15–24 years in the Mukuru Slums in Nairobi, Kenya.
These girls received EBI, along with messages about gender norms, self-esteem, decision-making, assertiveness and leadership in 12 two-hour sessions through ‘Sister Walks’.
The study documented an increased adoption of safer sexual behaviours, as a result of the program offered through BIG.
Knowledge in all the measures increased on average from 49.4% to 88.6% to 98.3%, through baseline, mid-term and end-term levels, respectively.
Two hundred and fifty girls have started receiving ‘Second Chance’ secondary school education, while 250 girls have received vocational and entrepreneurial skills training.
Knowledge was disseminated through publications.
The BIG project attracted many partners, including: CEFA (Core Education & Fine Arts), Junior Achievement, Equity Bank, the Nuru Program and the Marie Stopes Tupange Project, providing $81,300 in donations.
An application to scale up the project will be made to Grand Challenges Canada to implement the model at two other informal settlements in Nairobi, Mathare and Korogocho, to reach a total of 4,500 girls with the BIG model in three years.