In the Central American country of Honduras, the topic of sexuality is not typically openly discussed between youth and the traditional gatekeepers of information, such as parents, teachers and community members. Consequently, young people–especially girls, face high levels of negative sexual health outcomes, including unplanned pregnancy as well as gender-based and sexual violence. According to UNFPA, one in four adolescent girls in Honduras have been pregnant or is already a mother.
Whether we’re quick to blame patriarchal norms, cultural stigma, or socially conservative views, one thing is certain–reliable and accurate information on sexual and reproductive health is difficult to find for youth in Honduras—until now.
In August 2018, UNFPA and the Canadian Embassy in Honduras, with support from the Honduran government, launched a new interactive app geared towards youth, “Yo Decido” (“I Decide” in English). The app’s development and promotion was made possible by the Government of Canada’s development project: Promoting the Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Adolescents in Honduras with UNFPA, or “DEREJUV” for its Spanish acronym. This Canadian development initiative is also aligned with its Feminist International Assistance Policy, which launched in 2017, with the objective to refocus Canada’s international assistance on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
With nearly 90 percent of Honduras’ population having access to at least one mobile phone, “Yo Decido” has the potential to reach youth directly, reducing the common barriers that often dissuade them from learning about their health and accessing vital sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.
When youth install “Yo Decido”, they can browse information and resources regarding family planning and contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other adolescent health and development topics which are presented in a fun and engaging way. The app also provides important information for survivors of sexual violence and connects youth with the services they need, such as adolescent counseling, medical exams and expansive resources to support their ongoing healing process. Learn more about the importance of quickly accessing post-rape care in our Every Hour Matters campaign.
Not only does “Yo Decido” provide accurate SRH information, it also has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of adolescents and young people to safely and discreetly access SRH services across the country.
With a quick swipe, the app directs its users to one of the 24 newly established “youth friendly” clinics, where they can receive in-person services–without the presence of a parent or guardian. These centers provide a wide range of contraception, STI testing and counseling and are located in community health centers and schools throughout Honduran municipalities known for high rates of adolescent pregnancies.
The installment of the 24 health centers is part of Canada’s DEREJUV project, which supports the Government of Honduras’ Plan for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancies by promoting accessibility to SRH services for Honduran youth. The aim of the of the project and the app is to provide access to doctors, nurses and psychologists, whom can provide family planning, contraceptive and psychosocial services, alongside much needed information on sexual education and reproductive rights across Honduras.
During the “Yo Decido” app launch event last year, 600 youth were present alongside national government leaders, representatives from Honduras’ National Institute of Youth, the Government of Canada, UNFPA and many more.
“Yo Decido” provides more than just a list of services,” says David-Éric Simard, the Second Secretary of Development at the Canadian Embassy in Honduras. “By taking a holistic approach to sexual and reproductive health for youth, ‘Yo Decido’ meets youth where they are, providing helpful and accurate information on real issues that are common to them, including self-esteem and physical and emotional changes during adolescence. The information that youth find in ‘Yo Decido’ will help to break stigma and reduce harmful norms to drive change.”
The popularity of “Yo Decido” is proof that youth in Honduras want access to sexual and reproductive health services and education. Easily accessible tools such as “Yo Decido” have tremendous potential in Honduras and other countries by empowering young people to take their health into their own hands.