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Original tool sparks organic conversations in women’s health

The introduction of the life course mapping tool in Kenya, India, Nigeria, and Tanzania has helped aid M4ID in conversation with women on key health topics
August 17, 2018

By Margaret Ann Collier

M4ID’s Core project seeks to present new perspectives on women’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH), based on women’s own narratives and view-points.

In order to gain a better understanding, we recognised the need to establish means for productive dialogue across these four diverse cultures and communities. One of our solutions was the development of the life course mapping tool. In its outset, this tool has proven effective when conducting focus group and individual discussions with women and girls in varying stages of life.

The design: a straightforward conversation piece

The life course mapping tool’s effectiveness at establishing dialogue is partially due to its straightforward nature. The tool is a long, colourful piece of textile, marked with points to represent crucial health moments of a woman’s life. Examples of some of these moments include the onset of menstruation, the entering into a sexual partnership, and menopause.

When we implemented the life course mapping tool, the first moments of conversation were rooted in images; this helped both sides of the discussion bridge cultural divides and create mutual touch-points for dialogue. We asked women to place stickers with emoticon illustrations on the timeline as they reflected on what transitional health moments had meant to them as individuals.

M4ID’s design lead, Rose Matthews, tells us, “Mapping of these events serves to facilitate conversation, so that we are able to explore the reasons behind a particular behaviour, as well as its significance.”

The life course mapping tool put into action in India: conversation is centred around crucial health moments over the lives of participating women


This locally-sourced blue fabric was used to construct the life course mapping tool in Kenya.

Stay tuned to learn more about Core! Meanwhile, learn more about the project here.

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