The Divine Divas

A full-service, teen-only clinic experience designed to prevent unplanned pregnancy in Zambia. 

TEAM: in partnership with Marie Stopes InternationalThe Hewlett Foundation



More than half of the population of Zambia is under 18 years old, and the teen pregnancy rate is startlingly high (and growing). Despite years of effort and many organizations trying to solve this, traditional methods of family planning services failed to reach teens. was hired to design a radically new—and effective—solution to lower the teen pregnancy rates in Zambia.



The Diva Centres are teen-only mini-clinics designed to reach teens on their turf and in their own language. Nail polish, teen magazines, fun classes and the colorful design of the clinic itself make the Diva Centre a place teens want to visit and return to—quite different from existing clinics which are designed to feel sterile and medical.

The Divine Divas are the heart of the design.The Divas are five inspirational characters that each represent a different contraceptive method, bringing the method to life by embodying it’s characteristics and qualities. Miss Perfectionist, for example, is always on time and follows a perfect routine—important qualities for someone choosing to take the birth control pill, which has to be taken every day. Whereas previous services made reproductive health feel clinical and often intimidating, the Divas help teens relate to the topic, while making complicated decisions clearer and more memorable.

Three Diva Centres are now running  in Lusaka, Zambia, with thousands of girls already receiving information and services since launch. Marie Stopes International is working to expand the idea throughout Zambia and their other East African programs, and the project has garnered tremendous acclaim, both within Zambia and around the world.

Fun fact: "Diva' is a great word in Zambia that describes a confident, beautiful woman in control of her decisions. It came from a workshop we did with boys and they were the ones to describe their dream wife as a diva. A woman who is "in control, happy and disease-free". 



Hidden in Plain Sight: 

An early idea we all loved was speakeasy-style clinics—completely underground spaces that protected teens from the stigma associated with visiting a clinic. After prototyping this idea, we realized it would never work—teens felt they’d be in even more trouble if they were caught entering an underground space, so we had to design something that wasn’t so secretive. They needed something hidden in plain sight.


Do you want french tips? Do you use condoms? Would you like glitter too?

During research, we set up a free nail salon as a way of inviting teen girls in and having more relaxed conversations, and the quality of our interviews went up dramatically. The girls were comfortable sharing their experiences and asking more questions. Nail salons are feminine environments where girls are looking down and are not expected to have eye contact, which makes it easier to ask even the hardest questions. It was so successful in our research, in fact, that we incorporated the idea into the final design of the clinic experience—there’s free nail polish in every Diva Centre!


Read more about the Divas on the site here:



 The Divas just won Core77 Best Service Design Award and Runner up for Design for Social Impact Award. Find out more here