Today, Wednesday February 13, it is International Condom Day. For millions of young people around the world, unsafe sex is one of the biggest and fastest growing health risks. Dance4Life research shows that the Journey4Life, our innovative curriculum that focuses on empowerment of young people, has a positive impact on the sexuality of young people. In Ghana for example, 11% more young people are willing to use condoms and in Tanzania 32% more young people have been tested for HIV.
Positive impact on getting tested for HIV/STIs
Dance4Life studied the effects of the Journey4Life on young people in Russia, Ghana, Nepal and Tanzania. Findings from the outcome evaluation are positive and encouraging. Across all countries the model increases young people’s intention and/or behaviour to get tested for HIV and STIs. In three countries the intention and/or behavior of young people to get tested for HIV (Tanzania by 32%, Russia by 23%, Ghana by 5%) and STIs (Tanzania by 21%, Russia by 13%, Ghana by 5%) increased. In Nepal positive changes in intentions to perform healthy sexual behaviours were noticeable. Behaviours investigated were use of contraceptives, refusal of unwanted sex, STIs and HIV testing, action against violence bullying and discrimination.
Gender equal attitudes and willingness to change harmful norms increased
Gender equal attitudes increased in all four countries. In Tanzania (49%), Nepal (31%) and Ghana (24%) more young people are able to critically reflect on social norms related to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and about their own role in changing harmful ones. In Russia and Nepal more young people feel able to influence the change of norms within their family/household and in the community.
More confidence around sexuality
Confidence increased in Ghana, Nepal and Tanzania, expecially when looking at positive sexuality, such as: discussing contraception use and STIs status with their partner, asking their partner to have sex and carrying condoms. Confidence in SRHR increased in Nepal (by 25%) and Ghana (by 24%), especially in terms of agency in leading a healthy lifestyle. Knowledge and confidence in using services can still be fostered in both Ghana and Tanzania (where it was assessed) where difficulties on referral to health services (Ghana) and lack of accessibility of them (Tanzania) were also found.
Conclusions and follow up
The overall findings show that the Empowerment Model has positive effects on young people. Recommendations from findings and feedback received from partner organizations have been already taken up. For example, the Journey4Life has been improved, with more SRHR content explicitly linked to the activities. The Champions4Life training has been adjusted and referral to services strengthened. Since Dance4Life’s focus lies on empowering young people through an innovative sexuality education curriculum, we recruit and work with partners with a strong track record of working with young people on issues of SRHR. They have access to structured settings for young people, participate in existing youth and/or SRHR networks, task forces or alliances, and have extensive experience working with local providers of youth friendly SRHR services and fostering community support.
About the research
In 2017 and 2018 Dance4Life conducted outcome evaluation in four countries: Russia, Ghana, Tanzania and Nepal, with the aim to investigate the impact of the Empowerment Model. Research focused on assessing changes in behaviours, intentions (as strong predictor for future behaviours), confidence in acting in a positive way in relation to sexuality, gender equal attitudes, awareness of social norms and willingness to change harmful ones. Data were collected among 300 young people in Ghana, 280 in Nepal, 115 in Russia, and 103 in Tanzania. The whole report can be requested through firstname.lastname@example.org.