Creating Power among Community Women

Global Learning Partners (GLP), Inc. had the privilege of working with Health Communication Partnership (HCP) to create, field test, and expand a multi-city HIV and STD prevention program among female sex workers in Ethiopia. The project has become the standard of excellence for HIV prevention in Ethiopia. It has also served as a model for work in other African countries such as Tanzania. GLP, Inc. led a thorough research phase including interviews with project staff in other countries and an extensive literature search. This allowed us to draw on lessons learned by others, and to help the women in Ethiopia feel a part of something much bigger. We created a unique peer learning guide and field-tested a peer learning process through collaborating organizations and networks. We also offered input on ways to reach establishment owners and government officials, as well as (indirectly) sex worker clients.

The Value

SMART Journey was evaluated by an external evaluation team (Mela Research, Inc.) using an emotion-based qualitative approach, as well as more conventional quantitative methods. The findings show that the program has affected participants’ behaviors as well as their sense of self and of their future.

  • Women who participated in SMART Journey were more hopeful about their future than women who did not. Peer educators were transformed in their sense of identify and aspirations for the future.
  • Women who participated formed a more cohesive sense of community than those who did not and scored significantly higher on measures of social capital such as social support.
  • Participating women reported greater knowledge about HIV-related issues and expressed greater patience, perseverance and creative thinking when negotiating for condom use.

“Smart Journey was intended to change HIV-related behaviors. The data suggest that the program was very successful at achieving this goal. But the real ‘product’ of this program was hope.”

-p68, Smart Journey Program Evaluation Report

All of the materials used in Smart Journey have been built on principles and practices of Dialogue Education™. As described above, this dialogue-based approach invites personal reflection while also challenging learners to try out new ways of doing what they do and checking the results against their own goals. The success of Smart Journey offers evidence of the value of a thorough learning needs and resources assessment, the power of dialogue-based learning, and the value of designing with the end-in-mind.

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