Family-in-Need Trust of Zimbabwe is a programme that empowers girls and women through football in rural areas. Founder Jack Bbabbie on talking to girls about sexuality and pregnancy: “We have a box, and every girl is invited to drop an anonymous question into that box. If I find more than one question about a topic, such as sex, I invite a trained counsellor to come in and talk with the girls about the issue. These women are trained to address issues such as prostitution, child pledging, abortion and so on.”
Practical Session Ideas
Goal Programme Sessions
Adolescent Girl Life Skill: Understanding and making decisions about the body, sexuality, sexual/reproductive health
General Adolescent Life Skills: Decision Making and Evaluating Future Consequences of Present Actions for Self and Others
Decisions about the body, health, sexuality and reproduction are some of the most important decisions adolescent girls will be faced with. Adolescence is the time when girls transition into potentially sexually active beings. The experience happens within herself, through menstruation and increased sexual interest. The process also entails a change in how she is viewed externally by boys, men and society as a whole. This can be a positive and exciting part of a girl’s life, or an incredibly painful and damaging one.
Girls are faced with issues such as negative body image, menstruation, sex, pregnancy, STIs, HIV/AIDS and countless others early in life and are not given access to the right information or enough support in making healthy decisions. During this sensitive time, an adolescent girl needs to build self-esteem and make decisions based on facts, not myths, pressures or social opinion. Unfortunately, in many instances, girls tend to prioritise the needs of others before their own1 and make, or are forced to make, decisions that go against their rights, their health and their happiness.
Surrounded by a network of teammates and coaches, girls can use sport programmes as a way to gather in a safe and non-threatening environment, get access to the right information and develop the ability to make healthy choices. This environment can give girls the confidence to ask tough and sensitive questions and speak openly about sex and reproductive health. Participation in sport involves sweating and getting dirty, compounding the need for attention to personal hygiene. A sport programme provides the opportunity to teach each girl how to create personal time and space for positive, caring interactions with her own body. (See Women Win's SRHR Guide for more information).
- Talk honestly and openly.
- Describe why it is important to clean yourself and the potential ramifications of not attending to personal hygiene. Provide demonstrations and visuals.
- Emphasize that vaginas are not dirty or unclean, but rather are just like any other part of our body that we need to take care of and keep clean.
- Give out samples of soap and sanitary pads, if possible.
- Consider the access a girl has to supplies when discussing these topics.
- Refrain from judgment.
- Allow girls to ask questions and treat all questions as valid.
- Be creative. Use activities, games or role play to initiate conversation about sensitive topics.
- Create partnerships with resource providers within the community to educate girls about relevant topics and serve as a resource when necessary.
- Allow girls to show emotion (laughter, sadness, frustration) if it helps them in being comfortable during sensitive discussions.
- Create or emphasise confidentiality agreements, so girls are clear that they are safe to ask questions or share comments.
1. United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2007). Women 2000 and Beyond: Women, Gender Equality and Sport. Page 9