Feature Articles

Delivering custom-designed sexual health education to underserved women

Ref Number: ESEAOR201707

  • Date1 Jul 2017
  • Category FPA Message
  • Targets Social Workers Educators Women Public
  • AuthorFPAHK
  • Topic STIs & AIDS, Family Planning and Contraception, Health Knowledge

Supported by a three-year grant from the Community Chest of Hong Kong, the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) conducted the Pilot Project on Sexual and Reproductive Health Education Program for Women’s Groups with Specific Needs in 2014-1017. Sexual health education program models and teaching resources were developed for specific women’s groups, in partnership with community organizations serving these women. An experience sharing session was held on 22 June 2017 to present the Project’s achievements, and was attended by more than 80 participants. The Project addressed the barriers faced by five target groups, namely women with intellectual disabilities (ID), South Asian women residents, migrant domestic helpers, female drug abusers and sex workers. Innovative program models and teaching tools were tailored to their specific needs, to help them gain awareness about women’s health and disease prevention and adopt healthy living practices.

Women with ID were increasingly faced with the problems of ageing, including menopause, osteoporosis and the need for fall prevention. However their learning was restricted by their intellectual impairment, sensory difficulties and physical or mobility constraints. South Asian women and migrant domestic helpers faced language and cultural barriers in discussing female diseases and cancers, birth control and sexually transmissible infections (STI). Drug abusers and sex workers, who were vulnerable to unplanned pregnancy, STI and urinary continence, were worried about social stigmatization and discrimination when seeking SRH information and services. The Project had the following unique features to overcome these barriers: (1) Customized program models and teaching resources; e.g. introducing handicraft and other interactive activities to attract young women to participate in the program; using a custom-designed “female reproductive system apron” to help women with ID understand their anatomy; (2) Partnership with organizations which were already serving the targeted women’s groups; (3) “Train the trainers” approach to mobilize women volunteers, parents of women with ID and supporting staff as teaching assistants; (4) Employing an ethnic South Asian project worker to deliver workshops in their native languages; (5) Integrated approach, e.g. incorporating cooking class on calcium rich Chinese dishes into workshops for migrant domestic helpers.

During the 3 years of project implementation, around 1,000 women benefited from 44 SRH education workshops organized in collaboration with 19 partner organizations, with the assistance of 39 FPAHK’s women volunteers. Testing and efficacy assessment showed that the program models and teaching kits were effective, popular among women participants and could be easily applied by service workers.

In the experience sharing session, the above observations and results were presented. Five concurrent breakout sessions, each dedicated to one of the women’s groups served under the Project, were held for participants from respective fields to have more in-depth discussion. The custom-made teaching tool kits were displayed and their application demonstrated. In concluding the event, the Association encouraged partner organizations and other agencies serving these women’s groups to continue implementing SRH education with the program models and teaching resources developed under this Project.