Women’s lives are complex, and their sexual and reproductive health is vital to their overall wellbeing.
The life course approach helps us better see and understand the connections between past experiences and future health outcomes. It lets us look at a woman’s sexual and reproductive health journey on a timeline on which we can map the critical transitions in a woman’s life, transitions that can have an enduring impact both on her own health as well as on the health of future generations.
These transition points are sensitive events or periods of change and disruption in the biological, psychological, and/or social world of a woman, that influence her identity, status, rights, responsibilities, and needs. The timeline also helps us pinpoint possible entry points for interventions aiming to reduce ill-health and improve well-being of women.
To gain insights into the needs of the women we aim to serve, Core developed the life course journey mapping tool. The tool grounds the design process in research, by ordering individual experiences to reveal larger patterns and correlations. It works to prompt sensitive dialogue with women, while identifying challenges that may be turned into opportunities.
The life course approach complements Core’s human-centered design process, offering insights into how one or more transitions influence a woman’s life, and enabling us to co-create and test tailor-made women-centered preventative solutions for critical turning points in her life.
Both systems regard the individual as integral to understanding the problem and developing the solution. Consequently, implementation costs are rationalised as the co-created solution is most likely to be taken up by the women and girls it is designed to serve.
The combination of the two approaches kindles forward-looking engagement with women and girls on family planning and associated sexual and reproductive health issues.
Focus areas within project countries are guided by the life course approach, and based on extensive secondary research of national data, priorities and strategies for sexual and reproductive health. To further inform and refine our focus, we dialogue with technical experts and the foundation’s programme strategy teams as well as interact with girls and women directly in their communities during the design research Discover stage of the project.
Core’s focus in India is the adolescent ‘pre-marriage’ period, or the life course moments encompassing puberty, sexual initiation and the key transitions affecting women’s health and well-being around this period. Core has used the Discover design research stage to hone in on this critical period, to understand the challenges faced through an intergenerational lens. It seeks to collaborate with ongoing initiatives in the region, using human-centered design to co-create solutions.
In Kenya, Core seeks to better understand the drivers and barriers to trial and adoption of family planning methods from the perspective of both, men and women. Over the course of the two design research Discover phases, Core explored how family planning decisions are made, especially the role of men in decision-making as well as their influence on the sexual and reproductive health of their partners in general.
In Nigeria, Core will serve as a collaborative learning platform for implementing partners, the design community and the foundation’s country office. Core seeks to design a tailored learning journey with multiple learning modalities and engagement opportunities along the human-centered design stages of work. Our approach for Nigeria is informed by an extensive landscape analysis, discussions with technical experts and partners at a workshop conducted in November 2018, as well as a grounding field trip in early 2018.
Core seeks to explore adolescent transitions among women and girls in Tanzania. Both phases of design research for the Discover stage were carried out in late 2018. Core developed and employed bespoke design research tools to gain nuanced insights into adolescent behaviour with the aim to better understand the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents in order to help inform the government’s new strategy on adolescent health.