By Foluwakemi Ogunkua, SBCC and Digital Communications Advisor, A360 Nigeria and Dionne Oguna, Senior Associate Communications Manager, A360
World Contraceptive Day serves as a poignant annual reminder of the critical role that contraceptives play in the lives of countless young people around the globe. This year’s theme, “The Power of Options,” is particularly significant, shedding light on the transformative work of A360 at both international and national levels.
When young girls have the tools, such as contraception, to take control of their lives, they gain the power to turn their aspirations into reality. However, A360’s insight gathering revealed that many girls fail to see the connection between contraception and their future. On the global stage, A360 Amplify (A360) is leading the charge in supporting adolescent girls to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
During A360’s initial phase (2016-2020), the project reached over 600,000 girls with contraceptive information and services, supporting 400,000 girls to adopt modern contraceptives voluntarily. Under the follow-on project, A360 Amplify (2020-2025) is pursuing sustainability to achieve greater impact and scale.
A360 employs a human-centered design (HCD) process, creating innovative interventions to enhance the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls. Its primary goal is to increase the voluntary use of modern contraception, all within a broader framework of support for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) on their journey to making contraceptive decisions. The project brings together elements of public health, social marketing, developmental neuroscience, cultural anthropology, and government integration, creating a holistic approach that resonates with young people’s needs.
Today, in light of #WCD2023, we spotlight A360’s intervention in Nigeria: 9ja Girls and Matasa Matan Arewa (MMA). The program is led by the Society for Family Health.
9ja Girls targets unmarried girls in Southern Nigeria and aims to align contraception with their goals and aspirations. Through “Life, Love, and Health” (LLH) classes, girls identify their objectives, gain vocational and life skills, and view contraception as a tool to achieve these goals. Trained public-sector providers in public facilities ensure that girls who have a need receive safe contraceptive counseling.
Matasa Matan Arewa (MMA) focuses on married girls in Northern Nigeria, employing a multifaceted approach. It reaches young married girls and their husbands through personalized outreach by female mentors and male interpersonal communication agents. The “Life, Family, and Health” (LFH) classes integrate essential life skills, family health discussions, and contraception, emphasizing stability and financial planning.
As one of the countries where A360 is implemented, Nigeria has witnessed remarkable progress in promoting contraceptive options for adolescent girls. To create an enabling environment for these girls, A360 has trained over 439 Female Mentors, 1,006 Mobilizers (both male and female), and 539 Male Interpersonal Communication Agents. These dedicated individuals are crucial in raising awareness, providing information, and facilitating access to contraceptive services. Additionally, 1,264 adolescent responsive providers offer essential information on modern contraceptives, using the “Counseling for Choice” methodology, an evidence-based approach to contraceptive counseling that helps girls make the best choice about which method is right for them, while changing the way providers and girls participate in contraceptive counseling discussions to ensure that girls are always at the center and have the power to make the contraceptive choices that meet their needs.
The impact of A360’s efforts is quantifiable and heartening. A total of 373,701 girls have accessed various forms of contraceptives, with 95,492 continuing to use a modern contraceptive method. These numbers reflect the power of options as girls take charge of their sexual and reproductive health.
Testimonials from Beneficiaries
To truly understand the impact of the “Power of Options,” we talked to some of the girls whose lives have been transformed by the project, and this is what they had to say.
Tola, 17 years old: ” I now have the knowledge and confidence to make informed choices about my sexual health. Sayana press, my contraceptive of choice, has given me the freedom to plan my life how I want to, and I am grateful for the opportunity to access it. I encourage other girls to talk to healthcare providers about their options and take control of their health as I did.”
Habiba, 19 years old: “At first, I wasn’t willing to attend LFH classes because I thought it was a waste of time. I had my daily activities at home. I decided to participate out of curiosity after my first session; I wanted to learn more, so I decided to go for a second session, where I learned about the signs and symptoms of sexually transmitted infections. I confided in mentor Amina that I had been having watery discharge with a foul odor but couldn’t disclose it to anyone because I was ashamed.”
Fatima Auwal, 19 years old: “After the miscarriage I had, I wanted to access family planning because of the problems I went through. My husband also thought it was a good idea. Still, we were both skeptical on how to go about it due to the myths and misconceptions about family planning until I attended the LFH classes. I spoke to a health provider who answered all my questions, and I felt safe”.
Otana Blessing, 19 years old: “9ja Girls has given me hope for the future. I had an unintended pregnancy before this program, and I never thought I could achieve my dream of becoming a fashion designer. But with the training and support I have received; I am confident I can make it. I have also learned how to prevent unplanned pregnancy, which has been very helpful, especially in my relationship.
The real-life stories and experiences of girls like Tola, Habiba, Fatima, and Blessing testify to the transformative power of options. These young women have found the knowledge, confidence, and support to make informed choices about their sexual health and futures. Through A360’s dedication and innovation, they have discovered the freedom to plan their lives, gain essential life skills, and achieve their goals. The journey toward supporting adolescent girls continues, guided by the principles of choice, knowledge, and support, ultimately creating a brighter, healthier future for them and their communities.