Barber Shop and Beauty Salon Program Extends Family Planning Services to Liberians
Monrovia, Liberia-When Gbeni Taylor was 16, she learned she was pregnant and worried how she would tell her family. It was a frightening and uncertain time for her and one that she would wish on no other young person. She feared her father would throw her out of the house, but her mother and other family members ensured that she remained at home and attended night school to complete her education. Gbeni’s experience is all too common in Liberia where, according to the most recent Liberia Demographic and Health Survey 2007, literacy rates are low and about one-third of girls ages 15 to 19 have begun childbearing.
In hospitals in Monrovia, says Gbeni, “you see babies carrying babies. We need to talk to them. They don’t know. They do it out of ignorance.”
Gbeni’s life changing experience, as well as seeing her friends become mothers when they were too young, led the 21-year-old hair stylist to participate in an innovative program in Liberia to educate young women about properly spacing their families. The barber shop and beauty salon family planning program, an initiative under the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), trains employees of beauty salons and barber shops to provide family planning messages, condoms and referrals to a nearby hospital for family planning services. A total of 16 workers have been trained in four salons and shops. Since 2012, they have reached 1,100 clients and distributed 16,550 condoms through this initiative.