By Yarat Un, Senior Manager, External Communications, PSI Cambodia
“I learned in biology class about reproductive parts and the human body,” said 25-year-old Sopheakneath Bun, “But there was no comprehensive sex education for me to learn about things like romantic feelings and consent.”
As a co-founder of Dosslarb, a multi-media platform focused on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (AYSRHR), Bun is building the education for young people that she wished she had in her teenage years.
Growing up in Cambodia’s capital, Bun’s SRHR education was no different from that experienced by most Cambodian girls and women. Talking about sex, contraception, consent, menstrual health and other SRHR topics are taboo, leaving many girls and women without this foundational information, and with questions such as:
- Which contraceptives also help prevent STDs?
- Where do I get contraceptives?
- Can an IUD move around the body?
- If I use an IUD and still get pregnant, does the IUD go inside the baby’s belly?
- Are there condoms for women?
With a lack of sex education in schools, parents and trusted adults are the main source of sex education for girls in Cambodia. But when girls need information on topics that they cannot or will not get from their parents, they need a safe, judgement-free platform to learn more.
Dosslarb was the perfect team to build it.
In partnership with Promoting Healthy Behaviors (PHB), who provided technical support and consumer insights, Dosslarb created a successful campaign to help young Cambodians access reliable and discreet information about sex, relationships, and their bodies.
Dosslarb’s work was recognized by the PHB project, a PSI Cambodia-led and USAID funded program, for their efforts in raising awareness on AYSRHR via online campaigns that reached as many at 800,000 young Cambodians.
Dosslarb and PHB joined forces to amplify this work and expand Dosslarb’s online community to reach millions of young people in urban Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city.
Tackling the taboo
In partnership with PHB, a campaign called “Just the Two of Us” was developed to dispel misconceptions and educate youth in Cambodia about SRHR and modern methods of contraception. Because social media is popular among youth in Cambodia, Dosslarb uses Facebook as their main campaign platform, complimented by YouTube videos, a website, and an educational chatbot. This helps the campaign reach young people in Cambodia where they are already connecting and seeking information.
The campaign had the following goals:
- Raise Awareness – “Just the Two of Us” focused on interactive multimedia content to raise awareness about SRHR. Campaign media included quizzes, educational articles, Q&A conversations, and videos designed to start conversations and share information about modern methods of contraception.
- Engage Youth – The campaign aimed to facilitate conversations about SRHR to help engage youth. For example, campaign’s chatbot gave users the opportunity to ask and discuss questions related to contraception and other SRHR topics on a safe, judgement-free platform.
- Encourage Action – To help expand the campaign’s reach, people who engaged with the content were encouraged to also share it on their profiles and initiate conversations about SRHR. They were also referred to youth-friendly SRHR services where they could learn more and access healthcare.
The “Just the Two of Us” campaign and the partnership between PSI and Dosslarb works to ensure that young people in Cambodia are supported to make informed decisions that benefit their health, wellbeing, and futures. PSI worked to increase Dosslarb’s capacity and budget for creative content production and connected them with local health experts. Dosslarb ensured that campaign content was relevant and engaging for Cambodian youth and helped identify local influencers to partner with.
For phase one, the campaign promoted multimedia, educational content, including videos from trusted health experts in PSI Cambodia’s network. As part of the campaign, youth anonymously submitted SRHR-related questions for campaign materials to address. PSI worked with Dosslarb to promote the campaign materials and grow their social media community of Cambodian youth.
With phase one of the campaign complete, the second and final phase of “Just the Two of US” will continue to focus on modern methods of contraception, but use different tools such as podcasts, illustrated stories, and partnerships with other content creators in Cambodia. With this work, PSI will facilitate connections to help Dosslarb maximize their impact long after the campaign ends.
The impact of youth-powered programming
Young people were equal partners in the design, decision-making and implementation of the campaign, ensuring that the content was by youth, for youth. The team at Dosslarb ensured that we addressed the questions submitted from their online community, that the campaign leveraged the digital platforms youth were already using, and that the information shared was relevant and engaging to their peers and communities.
As a result, “Just the Two of Us” reached over 4.3 million people in its first phase, with over 30,000 people engaged on Facebook and 15,000 people engaged on the campaign website.
Most importantly, we gained the following insights to power this work moving forward:
- Engaging videos were the most popular among youth. The videos included charismatic experts discussing the pros and cons of different kinds of contraception.
- Fact sheets with simple and clear information about AYSRHR topics were the easiest materials for youth to share with peers.
- Q&A content directly answering common questions that youth were asking resonated with our audience.
- Addressing misconceptions about AYSRHR topics and who should be learning about it was effective on a digital campaign platform.
- Youth-friendly designs helped to engage our audience with bright colors and charismatic experts, helping to distinguish the campaign from textbook style materials.
“This partnership signifies a joint effort to address an important issue and provide young people with valuable information and resources regarding contraception,” said Sopheakneath, adding that “this collaboration inspires Dosslarb to recognize the significance of collective action and encourages us to explore further partnerships and initiatives aimed at promoting similar causes.”
Sopheakneath and her team are proud of their work, where they take creative approaches to support AYSRHR education in Cambodia. She maintains that “Dosslarb will keep striving to improve our work and deliver content to our target audiences. We are still working…to motivate and encourage youth to receive information and have open discussions for better sexual health.”
“Just the Two of Us” is part of the Promoting Healthy Behaviors (PHB) Activity, a USAID-funded Social and Behavior Change project that commenced in 2018 and is implemented by PSI Cambodia. The goal of PHB is to improve health behaviors among Cambodians and ensure they seek and receive quality healthcare with decreased financial hardship. PHB initially targeted various key health areas: Maternal & Child Health; Nutrition; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); Tuberculosis; Family Planning; and Malaria and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).