Building a Brighter Future for Ivorian Girls

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Jess Jacobs

Jess Jacobs is an actress, speaker and advocate. She is co-founder of a women-led, New York based production company, Invisible Pictures, whose mission is to develop, finance and produce film, television, documentary and digital content with a focus on stories not normally represented in dominant culture. Invisible Pictures has a mandate for authenticity, which is achieved through an inclusive development process in which any community represented in the content is a part of building the narrative, in front of and behind the camera.

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The Issue

Having children while young is dangerous for both mothers and their babies. They are less likely to finish school, find jobs, and are more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth.

Efforts to expand girls’ access to contraception too often fail because solutions are designed for them, rather than with them. Contraception is positioned to girls as limiting fertility or family planning, but girls view motherhood as their most valuable asset and a way to secure marriage. They also don’t see themselves planning for families they don’t yet have. We have the opportunity to re-frame contraception in a way that delights and resonates with girls and places the decision of when and how to start a family firmly in their hands.

Pilot And Learn

Building on PSI’s work through Adolescents 360 (A360) this pilot will use human centered design to create solutions with Ivorian girls, to equip them with knowledge, social support, and access to contraception to delay pregnancy.

We will engage urban, ‘pre-family’ girls ages 15 to 20 in Abidjan, aiming to give girls the place, time, and emotional space to visualize their futures and determine steps to get there. We know that girls are much more likely to act and change behaviors when they have social support, even if it is just with a friend, mother, or partner. Through this insight-gathering, we will identify who girls trust and want with them on their journeys, to incorporate social support to help girls implement their life plans. Based on these insights, we will then ideate and prototype to design the space and activities for girls, reframing pregnancy prevention to help them achieve their goals. 

Leverage And Scale

The project will seek to change behaviors, which will in turn change the systems that stand in the way of girls choosing their reproductive future.

With more than one million girls aged 15-24 in Côte d’Ivoire, and 60% of them living in Abidjan, this project has the potential to improve many lives and contribute significantly to achieving the goals of the Family Planning 2020 initiative. Lessons learned will also feed into a growing global movement to increase youth access to contraception by 2020.  This project will run concurrently with Ignite, a Dutch funded PSI project which aims to increase access to contraception for girls and builds a safe and enabling environment around accessing care. Ignite will provide the service delivery component, linking girls to  youth-friendly providers and increasing access to different types of healthcare products so girls have a range of choice in delaying pregnancy.