Exchanging sex for gifts or goods has become a fairly common practice among young women in Mwanza, Tanzania, according to research by the National Institute for Medical Research. This intervention aims to:
- empower girls economically (through cash transfers, financial literacy and/or livelihoods training)
- engage groups of adolescents in reflecting on love, sexuality, HIV, peer pressure and other topics
- challenge the widespread cultural narrative that it is “smart” for girls to use their sexuality to meet their material needs and aspirations
NIMR is doing formative work to inform the programme design.
NIMR's earlier findings show that the practice of transactional sex among adolescent girls in Mwanza :
- is rooted in both poverty and aspirations for a better life
- increases the number and turn-over of sexual partners
- often increases the age difference between partners, because men with money are generally older
- increases HIV risk and exposure.
The intervention builds on a range of evidence on cash transfers. A randomized controlled trial in Malawi is especially relevant. There, cash transfers given to young girls and their families reduced HIV acquisition by 60%, because they:
- gave girls access to items they needed
- diminished incentives for sexual exchange
- reduced the practice of transactional sex
- reduced both the number and age of girl’s sexual partners
- What are the norms (social/gender/sexual) that drive transactional sex in Mwanza?
- Through what pathways do these norms influence HIV vulnerability?
- Can an intervention that combines economic empowerment with sexual and gender empowerment reduce sexual exchange, numbers of partners and age difference between partners in rural Tanzania?
Formative research using participatory techniques, interviews and focus group discussions
Consultative meetings with key stakeholders in the area of adolescent research and programming
Mixed methods study to evaluate pilot