Divas: A Teen-Centric Approach to Sexual Health Services


by staff writer, Core77 Design Awards, 2016


In Zambia, IDEO.org partnered with Marie Stopes International and the Hewlett Foundation to design a multi-touchpoint service that helps teen girls in urban Lusaka access the contraception they need to to take control of their bodies and their futures.

In Zambia, more than one-third of women give birth by age 18, limiting their ability to finish school, start careers, and become mothers on their own terms. Most widely available reproductive health services are targeted at adults—with a focus on marketing contraceptives and reproductive health information to women who are married or have already started families—neglecting the needs of teenage girls.

At the Diva Centres, girls do their nails while having informal conversations about boys and sex. They hang out with friends, learn about contraception in their own terms from trained peers, and, when they’re ready, receive counseling and access to a variety of short and long-term birth control in a safe and judgment-free environment from a trained professional.

This was a full system that spoke to a specific context and felt very human-centered. The problem is enormous, but the solution felt very intimate. Despite being one of the leading providers of contraception and family planning services in the country, Marie Stopes Zambia saw almost no teenage patients in their traditional clinics when they began to work with IDEO.org in 2014. Since then, three Diva Centres have been launched around Lusaka, serving more than 5,100 girls—a staggering 82% of whom have adopted some form of birth control, most for the first time.

This is a great example of a product-service-system that has been designed for a local culture. The product is nail polish, but the service is education about contraception and the system is integrated into an organization that already has roots and clients in Zambia. I am taking a similar approach at Champion, as I am designing for their specific context and culture.