Delivering transformative, rights-based family planning
Project Name: Partnering to Save Lives – Chat! Contraception
Donors: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
Partner(s): Australian Government, Cambodia Ministry of Health, Marie Stopes International Cambodia, Save the Children
Objective: Chat! Contraception aims to improve the health of garment factory workers though empowering women and men to make healthy sexual choices, access reliable reproductive health services, and prevent unplanned pregnancies.
Cambodia has the largest youth and adolescent population in Southeast Asia, with two-thirds of the country being under the age of 29. Many young people are migrating to urban areas to seek work, especially in the growing garment industry. As a result, there are now approximately 700,000 garment factory workers in Cambodia, 80% of whom are female. These women are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to low levels of education and the lack of support system that comes with living away from their families. While half of female workers report being sexually active, less than a third of these use modern contraception, pointing to a significant gap in access to and utilization of sexual and reproductive health services.
Preventing unplanned pregnancies among workers has obvious benefits for factory management. Unplanned pregnancies result in workers taking additional sick days or leaving the factory, which affect production. Unplanned pregnancies result in workers seeking abortions, which can harm their physical or mental health, particularly if they choose an unsafe method. Supporting women to control when they have children enables them to prioritize their own health and focus on earning an income to support their families.
Chat! offers garment factories a suite of flexible tools and activities which are easy to tailor to individual needs. The complete package increases workers’ knowledge, confidence, and awareness so that they are empowered to take control of their lives and to make healthy choices.
- Sessions that are short, targeted, and activity-based. These were designed to provide key information and build participants’ confidence on communication, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and safe abortion.
- Videos that feature characters in a fictional garment factory, allowing workers to relate to real health challenges and decisions.
- An interactive mobile game/quiz challenges workers to prove and improve their understanding.
A mini-evaluation conducted one year after the start of the Chat! project (surveying 244 random workers from three participating factories) found that the use of modern contraception doubled (from 24% to 48%), utilization of reproductive and maternal health services increased (from 8.6% to 20%), and respondents reported that their confidence to refuse sex and negotiate contraceptive use with their partner tripled. Additionally, factory managers report that the program has increased productivity and reduced absenteeism and turnover.
A more thorough evaluation is planned for 2018.
To learn more about Chat!, visit the CARE Cambodia website.