Chat! Cambodia: Filling the Gap

We’re thrilled to share our first blog post written by one of Accelerator team participants! Thanks to Julia Battle for sharing the Chat! Contraception team’s experience with the Accelerator so far. In the Designing for Scale lab, the teams learned that early stage innovation needs to learn from users, looking for “viral” replication, spontaneous sharing or replication,  and unexpected value.  The below is a good illustration that sometimes or “user” is not who we expected it to be at the beginning and that assumptions need to be validated.

Women in the Garment Industry in Cambodia

Earlier this year, the Chat! Contraception package was finally in full swing. We had expanded into 14 factories. We were building closer relationships with factory management so we could get time with participants during working hours instead of just lunch time (when you have hungry workers!). Among the activities that were taking place at the time, we were working out the quirks of downloading the mobile game, an innovative approach in participant engagement. We were getting incredible feedback from participants about what they learned. Though originally designed for young females, we realized that the reality of the factory setting was that participants were varied in age and gender. Older married women were attending and still found the information valuable– for example, to open their eyes to different methods of contraception and to correct misconceptions about those methods. They also felt they could give better advice  to a wider audience– for example, about using emergency contraception or accessing safe abortion– in case their relatives, neighbors or friends were faced with unwanted pregnancies .

The Male Engagement Component

A positive result of the success with the female participants is that male factory workers starting joining the video sessions. Sometimes they would sit quietly and listen, but more and more they would ask their own questions. These were questions about the relationships of the characters and questions about the issues brought up through the films. That’s when we realized the missing piece– we were ignoring the men!

Any document you read about the garment factory industry in Cambodia will tell you that it’s 80-90% women. We had used those statistics in our own proposal. For CARE, focusing on women was a natural fit. But what about the other 15%? Didn’t they need information? More than that, if we were to start to transform gender norms as they related to sexual and reproductive health and right, weren’t men actually an essential ingredient? After realizing this, we embarked upon a male engagement component. Focus groups were conducted with male workers to explore what they wanted to learn about and which activities and approaches resonated best with them. At the end, we came up with a set of five sessions, some additional games, and the start of a communications campaign. We started with the sessions, of which there are five. They belong in a set but can also be standalone, as have become increasingly sensitive to the time constraints at factories. They cover the following topics: (1) Sex and Gender, (2) Communication and Consent, (3) Contraception, (4) STIs, and (5) Putting it all together.

Like the female sessions, they consist almost entirely of games and activities. But this time, it’s all men in the room. In Communication and Consent, men explore and critique audio scenarios between couples about having sex and using contraception. They get to make up their own endings, which allows them to think through alternative ending– those that they would rather live.

Part II of this post is coming soon since the team is just now starting to implement the male engagement component!