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Delivering Sexual and Reproductive Health Education to Girls

Are Helplines Useful?

Joan Njagi

Keywords: agency; communication technologies; culture; girls’ sexuality; participation; power; sexuality; voice

The use of helplines to deliver sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education to girls seeking such information and services can break down barriers created by low access and top-down approaches. However, it is important to interrogate their effectiveness in addressing the SRH needs of girls, particularly in contexts in which hierarchical social relations prevail and conservative religious and cultural norms dictate appropriate expressions and experiences of sexuality for girls and young women. In this article I use data drawn from a qualitative case study of a children’s helpline in Kenya to interrogate the interplay of power and culture in the delivery of SRH information to girls. The findings reveal that while this particular communication technology presents, potentially, a revolution in such delivery, power dynamics and cultural norms still pose barriers.

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