CARE’s new mobile app improves sexual health in Cambodian garment factories
5 Dec 2016
The garment factory sector in Cambodia is its largest formal sector. It employs approximately 650,000 workers, the majority of whom are young women who have migrated from the provinces to the cities. Often these young workers lack knowledge of sexual reproductive health and end up not using modern contraceptives. This can lead to cases of unsafe abortions, leaving workers severely sick and unable to work. A mobile application developed by CARE, as part of a package on reproductive health called Chat! Contraception, is addressing this issue.
Chenda, 27, lives with her husband and child in Phnom Penh. She moved to the capital eight years ago from Kampong Speu Province for a job in the factory where she still works today.
She enjoys her job as a line leader, and likes to support younger co-workers. After participating in the Chat! training sessions on sexual and reproductive health, she started using “Good Sister”, the Mobile App designed by CARE.
Many of the younger workers Chenda wants to support know very little about safe sexual and reproductive practices and many still seek out traditional abortion practices, or follow advice coming from unreliable sources, rather than consulting with a qualified doctor.
She now wants all of her younger co-workers to use this app and gain basic knowledge about sexual health: “Since I want my coworkers and friends to know about this app, I convinced them to participate in the training program.”
The Chat! Contraception package is being used in factories to help workers demystify common misconceptions about sexual health, and help them make healthy sexual decisions by providing, proper information and guidance.
The package consists of group training sessions, screenings of video dramas describing typical sexual challenges faced by workers, and “Good Sister”, the mobile app. “Good Sister” is a mobile quiz game that was designed to help workers review key messages and information previously taught in the training sessions and presented the video dramas.
It is particularly effective because it is simple to use, does not require the ability to read, and harnesses workers’ existing experience using mobile phones. Factories that have adopted the Chat! package incentivise workers to participate in the game by offering prizes to workers with high scores.
The game’s questions are via voice messages so that minimal reading is required. “At 7 am there is an alerting message on my phone. I open the message and listen to the question,” explains Chenda. After listening to the question, workers have to answer whether the statement in the question is correct: “There is a “right or wrong” answer we can choose from and we will be told if our answer is good.” In cases where the answer is wrong, the game will explain to the player via audio the correct answer.
“Since I started playing, the question on abortion pills taught me a good point.” The question asked Chenda: “In which situation can you use the abortion pill? When you are less than 9 weeks pregnant or more than 9 weeks pregnant?” Since she started using the game, Chenda has significantly increased her understanding of sexual health: “By playing the game, we learn about the advantages of contraceptives and we understand how to prevent pregnancies.”
While the Chat! training sessions and video screenings are sharing reliable information on sexual and reproductive health and increasing their interest and confidence, “Good Sister” is providing an easy way for workers to test and improve their knowledge on a daily basis. This mobile app, together with training and video dramas, is proving critical in enabling garment factory workers to make healthy sexual choices.
These activities are part of Partnering to Save Lives, which is funded by the Australian Government.