Shah Promotes Healthy Behavior Among Adolescents

Public Policy Professor Manisha Shah authored an article in the Conversation about her work to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Tanzania. Adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa experience high rates of HIV infection, unintended teenage pregnancy and intimate partner violence. While many reproductive health programs and services focus exclusively on females, Shah and her team developed a program to encourage adolescent boys and young men to make better choices around their sexual and reproductive health through sports programming. They also focused on empowering adolescent girls and young women to make healthy, informed decisions by using goal-setting exercises. The study found that both the men’s soccer league and the goal-setting activity for women reduced intimate partner violence and increased adolescents’ sense of personal agency to make better choices around sexual relationships. Shah concluded that “offering contraception alone, without focusing on behavior change for females and males, won’t necessarily improve sexual and reproductive health for adolescents.”

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