Love Matters Global Network member, Hablemos de sexo y amor (Hablemos), has just completed the successful One Stop Pleasure Shop project, aimed at connecting young Mexicans with the services and information they need to ensure their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The one-year project was funded by the Packard Foundation and undertaken together with Mexico Vivo – the independent youth-focused SRH organisation which implements Hablemos on a social franchise model.
The story began back in 2018 at the International Conference for Family Planning in Rwanda when Hablemos and Mexico Vivo entered Packard’s Quality Innovation Challenge. Colleague Claudia Akiko Bonilla made a live pitch for a proposal to develop ‘an online, one stop shop for youth in Mexico to access quality information and services that recognise sexuality as healthy, pleasurable, and free from shame’. The proposal was one of nine that were eventually selected as winners, out of more than 500 submissions. The winning grant was an opportunity to develop our first working prototype of connecting young users of Love Matters platforms to local, youth-friendly service providers. Project implementation began in August 2019 and has resulted in successes and lessons learned that will be applied in other countries across the Love Matters Global network.
Awareness, access, demand
The project aimed to achieve four key outcomes for young people in Mexico: access to quality SRHR information; increased awareness of SRHR services and where to find them; increased demand for SRHR information and services and increased access to SRHR services. A fifth aim was to provide Mexico’s Ministry of Health with strategic evidence to support the delivery of youth-friendly SRHR information and services.
The project began by analysing data collected from the Hablemos platform which identified what were the most asked questions and what were the most popular pages. This research enabled the team to better understand what the young community is searching for and what the most effective ways of delivering that information might be.
Optimising for impact
Based on these insights, the Hablemos team worked with RNW Media’s digital specialists to create and optimise a service referral page. The goal was to create an interactive location-based referral service using Google maps, so young people could access free SRH services including services specialised in gender-based violence. Alongside this, popular pleasure-related pages on the Hablemos site were re-designed and optimised to nudge users towards pages relating to comprehensive sex education and to move from seeking information to accessing services. Examples of the changes made included the addition of an SoS button and banners linking users to the One Stop Pleasure Shop service referral page. Texts and images were adapted to encourage further reading while bolder headlines prompted users to click on pages.
Once the behind-the- scenes digital and design work on the site was complete, a social media campaign was launched to raise awareness of SRHR services and where to find them. A campaign engagement strategy was developed focusing on specific target groups and how best to target them. The was vital in ensuring the right message was sent at the right time, to the right target groups. All this careful preparatory work paid off when the Hablemos team saw a 1162% growth in monthly visits to the service referral page.
The campaign also saw an increase in the numbers of users accessing the Hablemos discussion board with their questions – the number of questions almost doubled from just over 2,000 for the first six months of 2019 to nearly 4,000 for the same period in 2020.
There was also an increase in the number of Hablemos visitors accessing Mexico Vivo’s online consultation service. This is a formal health service offering users advice and help with sexually transmitted infections, which was giving only a handful of consultations before the campaign and which then carried out more than 150 in a two-month period after the campaign.
Adapting for COVID-19
The outbreak of the COVID -19 pandemic affected the One Stop Pleasure Shop in a number of ways. There was a surge in searches for online help with a corresponding reluctance to access offline services. The original plan for the project was to conduct in-person satisfaction surveys at four selected clinics to determine how people had been referred and their satisfaction with the service provided. This plan was adapted into an online survey which focused mainly on finding out how many young people knew about the existence of SRHR services, and if they did, what their experiences accessing these services were. When 78% of the respondents answered that they didn’t know these services existed, fresh survey questions were included to gather further evidence on the kind of services they would want, and what their expectations would be.
Spreading the word
A separate Facebook survey showed, among other things, that an overwhelming majority (85%) of young people had never heard of Servicios Amigables para Adolescentes – (the Mexican Health Ministry’s network of free clinics specifically for young people) while at the same time indicating that such a service would be beneficial to them. Of the people that had heard about this service, more than 60% had learned about it through Hablemos – effectively demonstrating the effectiveness of a popular digital platform in creating awareness among young people.
Advocating for improvements
The findings of the surveys have been used to advocate with the Ministry of Health, leading to a partnership between the Ministry and Mexico Vivo which will continue after the project ends. A quality survey is continuing in 20 SRH clinics until the end of November and the Ministry has agreed to adopt the recommendations derived from the One Stop Pleasure Shop and undertake a further collaboration on issues related to gender-based violence.
The lessons learned in this project on how Love Matters platforms can most effectively connect young people to the SRH services they need are already being applied by other members of the Love Matters Global Network in a new project funded by Global Affairs Canada. An international partnership led by Marie Stopes International (MSI) and including the International Planned Parenthood Federation along with RNW Media is working to ensure the SRHR of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. RNW Media will be implementing activities in DRC, Yemen, Kenya and Nigeria.