design process case study 2-1:
research about sexual education in India
5 months / 2017
A lack of sexual awareness and the stigmatization caused by this.
A brand that helps to identify reliable sources of information about sexuality, including e.g. educational kits that make use of kamishibai (Japanese paper theater).
0. Why this topic?
During my Internship at Visavis, a design agency in Chennai, South India, I chose to work on this topic as my personal project, since I was interested in the real life of Indian women and wanted to know what it was like. The first month passed by reading a lot and creating this table, to systematize the information that I had gained from media reports and statistics.
It turned out that a lot of sex-related difficulties in Indian society are due to a lack of knowledge, which made me want to work on this subject.
I started by doing research online, by reading newspaper articles and official statistics as well as books on the subject.
I noticed that there were many similarities between Indian and Japanese values. Shame culture, male dominance, and religion were some of the aspects that made me think of Japan.
It was mostly thanks to my experience as an expat in Europe that allowed me to recognize these similarities.
This gave me confidence to pursue my work on this project.
Together with an Indian friend of mine, I also tried to understand which topics relating to reproductive health might be easier to accept, and which might be less easy. As a result, I created the chart on the right.
I vaguely started to think about a strategy aiming at school children, since well-informed children will grow into well- informed adults and well-informed parents. Also, you can better reach parents through their children.
To comprehend the situation I created a chart that attempts do depict the possible life of an Indian woman in a rural part of the country.
By doing so, I could see how much a woman's menstruation affects her life.
Even so, awareness about this natural regular event is far from universal. Menstruation is stigmatized and regarded as taboo, which prevents girls from knowing about it prior to their first bleeding.
I conducted an online survey using Google Form, specifically to address well-educated people.
I tried to make the survey enjoyable and neutral without influencing people's opinion.
Having collected the answers, I made a scheme which shows from whom participants obtain information about reproductive health, and how reliable these sources are.
3. Visiting school
I contacted a local school to learn about the everyday life of children. Though my very presence was disrupting school routine, I was nevertheless able to get a glimpse into regular school life.
Children in India are often well-mannered and curious at the same time, another common point of Japan and India.
I visited this school two times, once to win their trust, and another time to present my final product. Both times, there were only girls aged between 10 to 15 in the audience.I was accompanied by a Tamil-English translator since most of Children in a local school don't understand English very well.
I briefly introduced my project.
One thing I noticed when talking about what menstruation was that the children tended to get bored pretty quickly.
The younger children were showing less interest since menstruation that did not affect them yet, while the older ones already knew what happens during menstruation. But there were friends whispering to each other what they knew about the subject.
How do children
Both the survey and the school visit revealed to me that there was a willingness to share information among children.
I concluded that school and the peer group are the universal platform of information exchange for children, regardless of their social status.
3. Talking to Kavya
Kavya Menon is an educator for reproductive health. She volunteers regularly at events such as the Pinkathon to raise awareness about menstrual health and to introduce alternative, healthier and more ecological methods to manage bleeding.
I volunteered as a team member for Kevya to tell people about alternatives to menstrual pads. We did a workshop the day before to learn how we could approach people both with facts and from personal experience.
The participants at this event were rather open and more interested than usual, especially the ones who actively came to our stand.
I went over and talked to the less interested people.
One particular girl summed up the prevailing attitude about menstrual health after listening to an explanation by the volunteers:
"It's so boring.
How can you guys
do this all day long?"
... But she was not embarrassed.
The difficulties are religious attitudes, the language barrier, financial difficulties, and a sense of awkwardness among teachers.
The subject is not easy to relate to,
unless children have already experienced it themselves; and once they know a little bit, there is less motivation to know more.
They tend to believe what they read and hear, without verifying the source.
How should we appeal
to the audience?
Reproductive health education should be fun,
sharable, reliable, easy to relate to, familiar,
a regular experience, and not awkward.
What to create?
It can be:
an educational programm
an educational kit,
a youtube channel,
an acount on a social network,
an ad campaign...
maybe it's a brand!
To create a brand with an iconic figure: as a sign for reliable sources of information, and to reduce the awkwardness that surrounds communication on sexual awareness.
Next: the development process for my kamishibai educational kit, one of the main products of this brand.