GREAT’s Approach to Improving Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Reducing Gender-Based Violence

The Gender Roles, Equality, and Transformations (GREAT) Project is an evidence-based international development intervention that succeeded in improving gender norms related to sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence in Northern Uganda. The GREAT model encompasses several components and places collaboration with local partners and the community at the center of the intervention. GREAT’s elements are tested, evidence-based, and scalable — tailored to life stages within the broad category of ‘young people.’ GREAT is simple and low-cost, and is designed to respect positive norms and values even as it asks communities to examine and challenge those norms and values that are negative.

GREAT includes: 1) simple steps to bring communities together to take action to improve adolescent well-being; 2) a serial radio drama with stories and songs about young people and their families living in Northern Uganda; 3) orientation to help Village Health Teams (VHTs) offer youth-friendly services; and 4) a toolkit with lively stories and games. Each of the components encompasses specific methods and tools.

Watch the Oteka theme song music video. The song was written and recorded by a group of young boys and girls in northern Uganda who won a theme song competition, and the song has become an anthem for the project.

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Introduction: Using the How-To Guide

Before becoming a GREAT implementer, you must first become GREAT yourself! Prior to beginning field activities, it is important to read through the How-to Guide to familiarize yourself with the content, as well as what will be involved in implementing GREAT.

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Chapter I: The GREAT Journey

The GREAT approach is based upon a set of principles and is made up of four components – sets of participatory activities to get adolescents and adults thinking and talking about how to help girls and boys grow into healthy adults who live in communities free of violence that encourage equality between men and women. Each component is briefly presented here.

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Chapter II: Preparing to Implement GREAT

This chapter will lead you through the preparatory work that will lay a strong foundation for your GREAT implementation. It includes selection of the implementation area and community actors, obtaining stakeholder buy-in, and preparing for and running the various orientations and trainings.

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Chapter III: The Community Action Cycle

The Community Action Cycle is how GREAT mobilizes communities to reflect on gender equality, prevent violence, and promote adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). The Cycle is your entry point into work with the community. A tested model of community mobilization that has been used and adapted around the world (Save the Children, 2002), the Cycle outlines a participatory process for a core group of community members to engage the government, community members and other stakeholders in action to address gender inequity, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health for adolescents.

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Chapter IV: The Oteka Radio Drama

The Oteka Radio Drama is a rich, multi-character story told in 50 episodes of 30 minutes each. Every episode touches on one or more aspects of gender, power, and sexual behavior, and follows several characters – adolescents, their families and community leaders – as they build and maintain relationships, and respond to challenges in their everyday lives. The value and effects of the drama are enriched when you organize and support discussion among listeners, as described in this chapter.

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Chapter V: VHTs and Youth-Friendly Services

GREAT does not provide health services. Rather, it works with existing Village Health Teams (VHTs) and health centers to ensure that volunteers and staff have the knowledge and skills to provide youth-friendly and confidential information, counseling, referrals and service to adolescent girls and boys. This chapter outlines how GREAT makes sexual and reproductive health services more friendly and accessible to youth.

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Chapter VI: The GREAT Toolkit

The GREAT Toolkit is the collective term for several interactive materials—a board  game, flipbooks, activity cards and discussion guides—that adolescents can use with their peers to learn about and take action on sexual and reproductive health, gender, equity, and gender-based violence. The purpose this orientation is to expose group leaders to the stories, activities, and games in the toolkit; demonstrate their proper use; and allow leaders to ask clarifying questions.

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