An MHM education module for
WASH United developed the MHM Education Guide over a 1-year period using a user-centered design approach that closely involved girls, teachers/trainers and local implementing partners at all stages of the design process. The MHM Education Guide is a story and play based module in the form of a compact, easy to use booklet that enables trainers to provide girls with essential knowledge about menstruation and MHM. In addition, it activates and empowers girls to support each other before and during their period. It is based on a model of 3 E’s – Educate, Empower and Engage.
Adapt the MHM Education Guide created and implemented successfully in India for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Educate, Empower and Engage is the heart and soul of the MHM guide called ‘Ruby’s World’. Following its success, WU reached out to us to test the user-friendliness of the product and adapt it for use in Sub-Saharan Africa across 7 nations. The adaptation of the guide was to be done with the African implementing partner, WAGGGs.
Based on the user profile research and problem statements from the 7 countries, we were able to draw parallels between the girls in Africa and India. With this baseline assumption in mind, it was time to engage to understand the socio-cultural and ethnographic differences.
While the scope prevented us to create personalised profiles, we relied on the experts in these intervention areas to understand these differences and reworked a story that was more apt to the African context.
These changes were based on secondary research, but it paved the way for the plan ahead.
Speaking to the trainers about their experiences
and challenges about the product and the implementation.
Observing a training session in the school conducted by a participating trainer.
Myth busting and a role play session with the girls to see if they actually understood the purpose.
A circle of relevance to understand which activities the girls connect with the most and which of them the least.
The trainers didn’t believe in the story:
While this was an expected reaction, it was important to understand their perspectives. For example, one trainer quipped - ‘Most Africans get to learn about menses from their aunts and an aunt should be included in the story”
The trainers didn’t believe in the product:
This showed us there was a lacuna in trainers’ understanding of the implementation. While the general sentiment was that the users preferred more physical activity and games and the guide was just a story. In reality, the stories in the book were interspersed with activities and play which were physical.
During one of the co-creation sessions we realised that the trainers, most of whom were well educated urban African girls above 18, read the product as if it was meant for them. Then without implementing the product they provided feedback that was their perspective. While the book was designed for 9-15 year old girls from rural Africa.
Our WOW moment came when a trainer said, “Now I understand! We were looking at this from our perspective and that’s why we either did not conduct the training or conducted the training the wrong way.This story is not meant for us, it is for the girls.”
We had a clear vision in the re-design phase, we had to address the following:
Language of the story – bring the local dialect, idioms and references to the story.
Context – set the context to the story. Bring in characters the girls recognised.
Address the Myths – they serve as a restriction in their daily lives and the myths had to be localised.
Train the trainers – to implement Rosie’s World in the prescribed format.
Sustainability– Create a sustainability model.
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