Health XO

This Manicure Just Might Save Her Life

A teens-only approach to contraception is getting girls the services they need to make the choices that are right for them

In Zambia, a radical new approach to contraception is giving adolescent girls the information and services they need to make their own choices and take control of their futures. In a country where more than one-third of women give birth by age 18, access to safe, comprehensive reproductive health services is paramount in ensuring girls have the opportunity to finish school, start careers, and become mothers on their own terms.

The Diva Centres—designed by in conjunction with Marie Stopes International in Zambia (MSZ) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation—are vibrant spaces just for girls. 

For girls who visit one of the three Diva Centres, 82% got contraceptive services and 36% returned for another visit.

At the Diva Centres, girls do their nails while having informal conversations about boys and sex. They hang out with friends, learn about contraception in their own terms from trained peers, and, when they’re ready, receive counseling and access to a variety of short and long-term birth control methods in a safe and judgment-free environment from a trained professional. In this safe environment, girls begin to connect birth control with their future aspirations and get the information they need to make smart decisions from a safe and trusted resource.

An environment more like a nail salon than a clinic turned out to be the perfect informal setting to talk about a sensitive issue.

By taking a human-centered approach, and spending weeks immersed in the lives and aspirations of Zambian teens, designed a multi-touch point approach to getting girls the contraception they need.

The Diva Kit helps MSZ staff reframe the conversation from side effects to girls' aspirations.

Despite being one of the leading providers of contraception and family planning services in the country, Marie Stopes Zambia saw almost no teenage patients in their traditional clinics when they began to work with in 2014. Since then, we’ve worked with MSZ to launch three Diva Centres around Lusaka, which are serving more than 5,000 girls—a staggering 82% of whom have adopted some form of birth control, most for the first time.

Following this initial success, MSZ plans to build a total of ten Diva Centres by 2017 and adapt the urban Diva Centre model to serve teens in more rural areas of the country.

Peer Connectors are a crucial piece of the Diva Centres' outreach strategy.

Go Deeper

Choosing the Future

An intimate portrait of Zambian teens as they discuss love, relationships, contraception, and their futures


What It Feels Like for a Teen

Do you remember what it’s like? This video helped us and our partners build deeper empathy with Zambian teens

Explore More Projects

Future Fab



Possible Health