15 Years Later, Still No Sexual Health Services, And a Mobile Petition

Posted by CorinneRamey on Oct 03, 2009

For the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the number 15 just made sense.  It is now 15 years since the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, when 179 governments agreed on a yet-unfulfilled plan to provide universal sexual health services by the year 2015.  With the children born the year of the conference now 15 years old, the foundation felt it was time to act.

So the campaign 15andcounting was born. The campaign aims to engage young people in sexual health advocacy, mainly by having them sign a petition and complete a survey accessible both on the web and on a mobile WAP site. The petition will be presented to the United Nations in mid-October.

"They need access to condoms and high quality information, and all these services that were talked about in 1994," said Chris Wells, creative design director of the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, of the 15-year-olds born the year of the conference.

Although the petition can also be accessed on the web, the campaign decided to use mobile phones as a way to reach a younger audience. "Originally we thought it would be a web campaign, but a lot of regional organizations said you can't just use the web, because people don't all have access to it," said Wells. "We're definitely going for the 15-20 age group which is why social media and mobile technology are so good."

The campaign also has a Twitter feed (complete with various sex facts) and is on Facebook and YouTube.

The mobile petition prompts users to enter information including their name, age and country.  Then, a short survey asks for information on access to sexual health services.  For example, one question asks if the state or government provides condoms and other contraception.  So far, over 133,000 people have completed the survey.

The survey was advertised through banner ads on MXit, a mobile instant messaging service used primarily in South Africa and Indonesia.  So far, many of the mobile petition responses have come from South Africa. "We want them to become mini-reporters about problems they encounter in their country," said Wells, of the survey participants.

In the future, Wells hopes that the people who completed the survey and signed the petition will advocate for sexual health in the future. "From our point of view, we want to empower young people to start doing this kind of advocacy at the country level, and build a network of active sexual health advocates," he said.

Image: MxIt ad courtesy of 15andcounting

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