Why Access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education is Critical—and How Talking Books Can Help
Updated: Jun 15
Partners like VSO Zambia and CARE Ethiopia are using the Amplio Talking Book to engage youth in remote communities about their sexual and reproductive health and rights
At the 75th World Health Assembly last weekend, there were disagreements over the draft text on global health strategies around HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections. Several countries opposed the inclusion of references to “sexual rights” and “comprehensive sexuality education.”
According to Devex, the lack of consensus raises questions about the global goal of ending these epidemics by 2030. Eamonn Murphy, a deputy executive director at UNAIDS, said that he’s concerned about young people in particular. “When they do not have access to comprehensive sexuality education, their knowledge sources are often poor and uninformed, causing young people to have a higher risk of HIV, and being less able to address issues of violence and sexual abuse."
Many of our partners use the Amplio Talking Book to reach and inform communities about adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Last year, CARE International in Ethiopia used Talking Books to share SHRH information and life skills with girls and boys in extremely hard-to-reach pastoralist communities in the Afar region. CARE Ethiopia is currently reprogramming its Talking Books to support girls' groups and Social Analysis and Action (SAA) groups in the Amhara region.
Partnering with VSO Zambia to strengthen SRHR knowledge and healthy behaviors in Samfya District
For the past two years, Amplio has partnered with VSO Zambia on its Adolescent Training and Local Knowledge (TALK) project, which uses Amplio Talking Books to strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights knowledge and services for young people aged 10-18 in the remote island communities of Samfya District.
Amplio partnered with VSO Zambia and Arm on the TALK II project.
The Zambia government is working to strengthen adolescent sexual health education and services. However, young people continue to face SRHR challenges, including low contraceptive use, poor menstrual hygiene management, teen pregnancy, early marriage, STI/HIV infection, and gender-based violence.
Samfya District, in Luapula Province, has the second-highest rate of child marriage (50%) in the country. HIV prevalence is higher (9%) than the national average (5%). The average age of sexual debut and cultural marriage is 12 years. Children as young as 10 years are engaged in transactional sex, and by 18 years, 53% of girls are married and 30% are pregnant or already mothers.
But the TALK project and Talking Books are making a difference. Last year, an external evaluation of TALK II, which was supported by Arm's sustainability initiative, showed that Talking Books made a significant impact, including:
improved message reach, engaging more youth and parents
improved SRHR message quality, relevance, and consistency
improved SRHR data collection, including user feedback
improved engagement through technology
Our partnership with VSO Zambia has continued. (We're currently in phase three, i.e., TALK III). Learn more about the project and read the external evaluation here.