Apr 2017 – Mar 2020

In Their Hands

A teen-centred movement to normalise adolescent sexual health, reduce pregnancy and end unsafe abortion among Kenyan adolescents.

$14,900,000 Multi-Year Grant Value

Other funders

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Kenyan teenagers have never been better connected, better informed or as well educated as they are today. 

Around 97% of them know about contraception, with tens of thousands using social media and social networks, compensating for ineffective school-based sex education. But despite this, Kenya's rates of teenage pregnancy, new HIV infections and injuries due to unsafe abortions are among the highest in the world. 

Last year, adolescent girls accounted for 47% of all severe complications due to unsafe abortions, but only 7% of Marie Stopes Kenya's family planning clients. A demographic wave is powering absolute numbers, but relatively speaking, girls have the highest risk of unprotected sex, which is more likely to be ‘transactional’ with older men.

Behind this dichotomy is a combination of lack of incentives for service providers to serve adolescent girls, widespread myths and misconceptions about sexual health and a social context that stigmatises adolescent sexuality and denies girls their rights. 

This investment is designed to develop a movement, driven by youth, that can address this issue.

To ensure success of this programme, we are working with three innovative partners:

  • Marie Stopes Kenya (MSK) is one of the leading private providers of sexual health services in Kenya. MSK provides short-term, long-term, and permanent methods of contraception, as well as STI & HIV counselling. 
  • Well Told Story is a multi-award-winning social communications design and production company based in Kenya. In 2009, Well Told Story created Shujaaz, a youth-focused brand currently reaching millions of adolescents in Kenya and Tanzania.  
  • Triggerise has been working in Kenya since June 2015, supporting projects promoting Blood Pressure Screening and Hypertension treatment at Tunza clinics. Triggerise builds scalable solutions to deliver resources to underserved communities. 

Impact

Our theory of change mirrors the pathway that girls need to follow when exercising their sexual rights. This starts with girls valuing their sexual health and wanting services, and involves designing these choices on their terms, and making providers accountable, creating an environment where girls are fully supported to make this decision.

I want it: A dramatic expansion of youth-focused edutainment, social media and community outreach so that girls do not just know about sexual health and contraception, but are motivated to use it.  

On my terms: A new Trip Advisor-like ecosystem for teenage sexual health that brings product and services on their terms – through user reviews, user-controlled choices, new delivery channels and incentives - to break down barriers and stimulate provider performance. 

Supported: A campaign-like change to the discourse surrounding adolescent sexuality and rights. We will provide the tools to strengthen youth movements, buttressed with supportive multi-media campaigns that resonate with leaders, parents and community influencers.  

Our health impact combines scale with focused attention on shifting uptake of key sexual health services. Over three years, In Their Hands will reach 250,000 girls with contraception, HIV counselling, testing and care, and safe abortion or post-abortion care, averting 95,000 pregnancies and 30,000 abortions among girls aged 15 to 19.