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Girl Talk: From Family Planning to Family Contributions

Girl Talk aims to use cultural art to gather girls to discuss reproductive health, while creating opportunity to contribute to their family.

Photo of Sarah Gibson
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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

Girl Talk addresses the first major barrier of creating a safe space for women to talk and get the healthcare services they need while still feeling as if they are contributing to their family. Furthermore, Girl Talk aims to foster community support not only for the women involved but among the women involved by forming trusting relationships. Women will not only have the community behind them, but will also have somewhere to turn when clinic workers or Girl Talk is not around. Because Girl Talk is not a medical program, it provides women who have already received birth control or other services to come and share their knowledge with the younger girls as well as get continued protection for themselves without having to wait at the clinic.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

Is there somewhere safe that Girl Talk workers/volunteers can stay that will entice people to come support our initiative? Are women allowed to gather together if they are getting paid and can give that money to their family/husbands? If a young women is not married, will making money increase her chances of not being married off quite as young?

Explain Your Idea

Girl Talk is an initiative that will result in the women of crisis communities gathering in a safe space to foster community relationships and trust. The initial conversations will be facilitated by Girl Talk volunteers with the hope being that the older women in the communities will eventually take over. Conversations will not immediately jump into sexual and reproductive health, but will begin with the women's stories (names, where they are from, what they are going through, etc.). Once trust has been established, Girl Talk will go into the reproductive health, specifically geared towards the young women in these communities. One day might discuss pregnancy and abortions as well as the dangers associated with each. Girl Talk will have structured topics and conversations planned out for every few days, but these are not mandatory in that if women have specific questions, answering their questions is most important! While focusing on these discussions, the women will also be making jewelry or patches that can be sold. What the women make can either be sold in their community or sold to Girl Talk who will then sell them in other countries. The patches can be sewn into their clothing and on the patch there can be: names of people they trust and love, proverbs/sayings about the lessons from Girl Talk, and reminders of how valuable they are individually. There will also be a bathroom where Girl Talk is located, hopefully preventing UTI's by eliminating fear of public restrooms.

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

Girl Talk addresses the safety concerns of women in refugee camps, particularly in regards to using the restroom for fear of men waiting to assault them. Therefore, the number of UTI's should also decrease as women can drink the proper amount of water. Because it is only women, Girl Talk also fosters community relations among the women in crisis communities because they are working together and learn to lean on each other for understanding and help when Girl Talk is not around. Moreover, Girl Talk provides a productive place for women to meet by allowing them to make money for being there. Simply, Girl Talk impacts young women by: providing a source of income, giving a safe place to grow and learn, and fostering community relationships.

How is your idea unique?

Girl Talk is unique because it is initially dependent on outside volunteers or workers, but seeks to make the women self-sufficient in the "pass-it-on" philosophy such that women who are helped by Girl Talk eventually teach the women younger then themselves and so on. Furthermore, Girl Talk is a way to potentially pay young women to learn about sexual and reproductive health while still giving them resources if they need help. Girl Talk not only gives young women resources to help them, but a voice of their own to discover who they are, what they truly want, and how much they are valued. But more than that, Girl Talk fosters community support around the initiative because the women are making money for their families/husbands without stepping away from their culture.

What are some outstanding concerns or questions that you have regarding your idea?

Safety is a concern for those seeking to help Girl Talk get started, and for the women who pioneer the Girl Talk program. Girl Talk is also interested in exploring materials that are most accessible and desirable for making the jewelry as well as the capabilities of the women in these communities for the most impactful ways to reach the community. There are obviously many things about the refugee communities that we do not know at this time so discovering the culture there is also a priority.

Who are your end users?

The end users for Girl Talk would be the women in refugee camps, namely in Jordan as a result of the Syrian conflicts. These end users are in particular the young women in these communities who cannot go anywhere alone for fear of being assaulted by men and who are being married off because they can be seen as a burden. Girl Talk aims to directly benefit these women is affirming them in their worth while also building a community around them where they are safe and welcomed. While Girl Talk may not benefit everyone in these camps, it is structured to help as many as possible with potential for expansion. Girl Talk can specifically help young women who have younger sisters or daughters that they can protect by sending them to Girl Talk.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Jordan

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

Girl Talk is specifically aimed at the refugee camps and crisis communities created by the Syrian armed conflicts. This is a primed setting for Girl Talk because there are already medical clinics and volunteers established in the area so there is potential for outside help to safely come into the area. Girl Talk may be expanded, but such ideas have not been explored. The risks in this area are potential safety risks, but risk assessment is based on cultural standards in these camps.

What is your organization's name?

Girl Talk An initiative, not an organization yet, but a potential organization started through the DaVinci Center of Virginia Commonwealth University

Tell us more about you.

Currently I am an individual student at Virginia Commonwealth University with a team of resources and people behind me, stemming from the Virginia Commonwealth University Innovate Program. We are an interdisciplinary team centered around ideas for human centered innovation that focuses on the end users rather than ourselves. As such, we would be willing to create a team that specifically focuses and dedicates their time and resources to this initiative and advancing Girl Talk as far as humanly possible.

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Still in planning phase and does not exist yet

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • No, not yet.

Expertise in Sector

  • Have not worked in sector, but excited to learn more.

Organization Location

Richmond, Virginia. More specifically Virginia Commonwealth University

What is your organizational status?

  • Other

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Early Stage Innovation: exploring my innovation, refining, researching, and gathering inspiration.


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


Thank u Sarah, this is good because it gives voice to most of the women and thus their rights are heard

Photo of Emiley Jacklene Trowbridge

Wow! This idea is honestly blowing my mind right now. I really do think that this could help so many people. I love how in depth and how much thought you put into this idea. I think woman need to have a support group in order to rise above and understand themselves on a deeper level. I think this could really help woman and build each other up. I also really love the picture you included.

Photo of Madisyn Rigsby

I love that while they will be discussing the topics at hand or anything they have questions about, they will also be keeping busy with something that gives them a stress relief. I feel like making things could be very beneficial to their mental health in finding a simple way to distract themselves and alleviate their worries if only for a short amount of time. It would create a great atmosphere and leave them with a reason to keep coming back.

Photo of Eunice Kajala

Hi Sarah, adolescents and youths are the victims of inaccurate or incomplete sexual health information.How are you going to ensure that the Girl talk conversations by volunteers are scientifically accurate ?

Photo of Sarah Gibson

The volunteers will, at least initially, be medical professionals. Similar to an education system, before going into refugee camps there will be a comprehensive curriculum established and reviewed by several organizations around the world to ensure that the women in these areas are given all the accurate information they need. Thanks for commenting!