UNFPA Young People's Sexual and Reproductive Health Challenge: Top Ideas Announced

Celebrating four innovative solutions that promote menstrual health around the world

In Parternship with
The Challenge

How might we radically improve access to, and quality of, sexual and reproductive health education and services for young people?

UNFPA Team Celebrates Top Ideas

After reviewing more than 270 submissions over the course of the past six months, we have selected four Top Ideas that we believe will help to create communities where every woman and girl has the ability to make informed decisions and manage their health, with access to high quality sexual and reproductive health information, products, and services.  

These Top Ideas reflect the collective momentum of this community, over 2,000 comments, and hundreds of Challenge participants who recognize that current solutions for women and girls are insufficient. We celebrated this announcement on May 28—International Menstrual Hygiene Day—and are honored to have the opportunity to work with these organizations that will be bringing innovative solutions to menstrual health challenges in their communities. 

Help keep up the momentum by clicking on the links below to learn more about each Top Idea and leave a comment to congratulate them!

Be Girl

SmartCycle is a physical tracking tool and educational app to address adolescents' limited access to age-appropriate menstruation and reproductive health information in Colombia and Mozambique. 

"At Be Girl, we believe access to design is critical to remove barriers to opportunities and break poverty traps. Products play a major role in leveling the playing-field for people, particularly youth and girls in limited-resource settings who too often are overlooked due to their limited purchasing power. Platforms like IDEO/UNFPA allow us to work collectively to democratize access to design and unlock the power that comes with it, transforming lives and providing everyone the opportunity to achieve their infinite potential."

— Diana Sierra, Founder & CEO, Be Girl

Inteco Kenya

ARI Dispensers enable distribution of single sanitary pads via a cashless, discrete system to in- and out-of-school adolescent girls in Nairobi slum areas. 

"We are super excited about this new chapter in our journey. Winning the Challenge has put a spring into our step. It has validated all the trials that we have faced. We honestly cannot wait to see what is in store for us."

— Munira Twahir, Founder and Strategy Director of Inteco Kenya, expressed excitement about the future of this solution.

Smart Girls Foundation Uganda

Bags4Girls are comprehensive menstrual hygiene kits and educational programming designed with and for girls in Uganda.

"Change is worth fighting for. We are so happy for winning this Challenge since it's going to enable us to empower vulnerable adolescent girls."

— Shamim Nantumbwe, Program Manager Smart Bags4Girls / Managing Director, Smart Girls Foundation Uganda.

"On behalf of the team, I want to extend our sincere gratitude on this Challenge win. We are so very excited about the support and mentorship we are to get and we promise to put it to good use for the betterment of adolescent girls in Uganda."

— Jacent Kabayaga, M&E Coordinator Smart Bags4Girls Program, Smart Girls Foundation Uganda 

Women's Global Health Innovations

Bfree Duo combines menstrual hygiene management and conceptive technology with knowledge support and training to address the personal health needs of South Sudanese adolescent girls living in northern Ugandan refugee settlements.

"ZanaAfrica is thrilled to partner with WGHI to help girls realize the promise of their further through integrated menstrual, sexual and reproductive rights. The BFree Duo, combined with our health magazine and OpenIDEO’s human-centered design support, will measurably and scalably help tens of thousands of adolescent girls safely navigate adolescents, unhindered and on their own terms. We are thrilled IDEO is taking a bold stand for menstrual rights."

— Megan White-Mukuria, Founder & CEO, ZanaAfrica

What’s Next?

Over the coming weeks, UNFPA will work with each of the Top Idea teams to tailor a support package based on unique project needs.

We are deeply inspired by the enthusiastic response from individuals, communities, and organizations around the world, creating new solutions to a complex, yet critical issues. Thank you for lending your inspiration, expertise and voices to our global collaboration.    

Early Childhood Book Writing

It can be a challenge to write a book for an audience as young as 0-3 year-olds. You need to say a lot through a short story, use the correct vocabulary, and keep young, wandering minds engaged. This section supports your understanding of some basic rules, methods, and tricks to write for this audience of children (0 to 3), families, and caregivers.

  1. Basic Vocabulary Terms: Tier 1 vocabulary is comprised of words that most children use in everyday speech. This lesson provides teachers with Tier 1 words, and can be used to ensure the vocabulary in your manuscripts meets our Challenge Evaluation Criteria.
  2. 101 Tier 1 Words in English and Spanish: Vocabulary list of tier 1 words in English and Spanish with child-friendly definitions.
  3. Preschooler's Vocabulary: The words on this list are the most frequently occurring words of preschool children.
  4. Mixed Word List: A mixed list of words for babies, toddlers, preschoolers
  5. Children's Book Mistakes: 5 children’s book mistakes to avoid when crafting your manuscript. Working on a book for young readers? Here’s what not to do.
  6. Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators: The international professional organization for authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults.
  7. Reader's Guide Tips for Parents: The Reader's Guide provides aspiring authors with insights into what parents are doing to facilitate a quality reading experiences with their children.
  8. Amari's Adventure: There are examples of books we consider “quality reads.” Elements of these "quality reads" include a compelling storyline, using language that can be easily read aloud, and embedded reading guide for teachers/parents.
  9. Types of Books: An overview of the different types of book genres associated with different types of language and how each encourages a different dialog or conversation with children.
  10. Everything About Writing a Picture Book: Picture books! For many writers, this is the most tantalizing genre of all. It might also be the single hardest one to crack. So how do you do it? The following resource is adapted from a workshop given by Edmonton-based children’s writer Alison Hughes.
  11. Best Books for 0-5 Years: The books here are the best books written for babies, toddlers and preschoolers ages 0-5 over the last 100 years.

Urban Contexts

Some of you may be familiar with the experiences of living in an urban context within the U.S. like Philadelphia, but others of you may not. This section contains a mix of articles, podcasts, documentaries, and resources that provide a window into the lives and learning experiences of children, families, and caregivers living in urban contexts.

  1. Read by 4th: Get a flavor for Philadelphia and the momentum behind early literacy in this video from the citywide, grade-level reading campaign, known as Read By 4th.
  2. Don't Ask Where I'm From, Ask Where I'm a Local: Writer Taiye Selasi speaks on behalf of "multi-local" people, who feel at home in the town where they grew up, the city they live now and maybe another place or two.
  3. The Philadelphia Migration Project: A talk from Domenic Vitiello, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of City Planning and Urban Studies at University of Pennsylvania, which gives comprehensive insights on the topic of "Local History and Demography: The Philadelphia Migration Project."

  1. Inclusion in Early Childhood Settings in Philadelphia: A resource from the William Penn Foundation that dives into inclusion in Philadelphia child-care programs.
  2. Diversity in Early Childcare and Education: This book by Janet Gonzalez-Mena explores the rich diversity encountered in programs and environments for children birth to 8—including those serving children with special needs.
  3. Philadelphia's Immigrants: The PEW Charitable Trust shares about immigrants in the city of Philadelphia and how they are changing the city.
  4. Growing Up American: This academic paper explores the challenges and socioeconomic circumstances confronting immigrants and immigrant families.

  1. Migrant Children Growing Up in America: During this webinar, three scholars explore the educational, psychological, and social impacts of discrimination on immigrant children from birth to age 10 growing up in America.

We ran the UNFPA Young People's Sexual and Reproductive Health Challenge because we believe young people have the fundamental right to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, as well as have access to relevant care. By providing access and education, and reducing the stigma around sexual and reproductive health, young people can live without fear, make smart decisions for themselves, and work toward their dreams.