Press Releases

22 Jun 2017

FPAHK and partners delivered custom-designed sexual health education to underserved women’s groups

The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) today called for better awareness of the specific needs of underserved women’s groups among related social service sectors and continuous concerted efforts in enhancing their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education. The appeal was made in an experience sharing session on a Chest-funded pilot project to custom-design program models and teaching tools to tackle the barriers faced by these groups.

Dr. Susan Fan, FPAHK’s Executive Director, expressed gratitude to the Hong Kong Community Chest for its generous funding allocation for FPAHK to implement the 3-year Pilot Project on Sexual and Reproductive Health Education Program for Women’s Groups with Specific Needs (the Project) during 2014-1017 in her opening remarks. Co-organized by Haven of Hope Christian Service, PathFinders, Teen’s Key and The Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers (SARDA), the Session was attended by more than 80 participants.

The Project aimed to deliver SRH education for five targeted groups, namely women with intellectual disabilities (ID), South Asian women residents, migrant domestic helpers, female drug abusers and sex workers, by developing innovative program models and teaching resources tailored to their specific needs, to help learners acquire basic understanding of women’s health and adopt healthy living practices and disease prevention.

Dr. Fan said, “Through 3 years’ of testing and efficacy assessment, we are positive that the program models and teaching kits that we have designed are effective, popular among women participants and easily applicable for service workers."

Approximately 1,000 women benefited through 44 SRH education workshops organized in collaboration with 19 partner organizations serving these targeted groups, with the assistance of 39 FPAHK’s women volunteers trained to be peer trainers.

In a short project documentary video shown during the Session, an adult woman with moderate ID who attended an SRH workshop said, “Protect myself. If someone touches me, I yell. Tell the caretaker,” showing what she had learnt to do when facing sexual assault. Another learner, an Indonesian migrant mother in her early twenties who was introduced to FPAHK’s birth control and gynecological checkup services through this Project, said, “I know family planning. I like this kind of workshop.”

In the plenary presentation, Miss Doris Tsoi, FPAHK’s Fieldwork Officer said, with an ageing population of women with ID, there were increasing concerns about menopause, osteoporosis and fall prevention for them, but their learning was restricted by their intellectual impairment, sensory difficulties and physical or mobility restrictions. Both South Asian women and migrant domestic helpers were challenged by language and cultural barriers and were concerned about common female gynecological diseases and cancers, with the former more interested in birth control methods and the latter in preventing unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Drug abusers and sex workers, who were vulnerable to unplanned pregnancy, STIs and urinary continence, were worried about social stigmatization and being discriminated when seeking SRH information and services.

Miss Tsoi said, with the aim to cater to their specific needs, the Project had 5 major characteristics: (1) Custom-made program models and teaching resources, i.e., adopting handicraft and other interactive activities to attract young women and a “female reproductive system apron” specially designed to help women with ID grasp abstract concepts about SRH; (2) Partnership with 19 organizations serving the targeted women’s groups; (3) “Train-the-trainers” to mobilize women volunteers, parents of the women with ID and supporting staff as helpers; (4) Hiring of an ethnic South Asian service worker to deliver workshops in the native languages of the South Asian women’s group; (5) Integrated approach, i.e., incorporating cooking class into the workshops with women volunteers teaching how to prepare calcium rich Chinese dishes to attract migrant domestic helpers.

Afterwards, 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 focused sharing and discussions. A collection of custom-made teaching tool kits were also displayed and their application demonstrated.

In concluding the Session, FPAHK encouraged partner organizations and other agencies serving these underserved women’s groups to continue implementing SRH education and adopt the program models and teaching resources developed under this Project.