Love Matters is the flagship sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) program of RNW Media - an organization that creates user-owned digital communities where young people can engage with taboos and sensitive topics in a safe environment. The program uses digital data analysis to understand the specific needs of each of its target regions. In response to those needs, Love Matters tailors its platforms to reach millions of users and engage them in open, honest, and non-judgmental conversations about all aspects of love, sex, and relationships. Since launching the first platform in India in 2011, Love Matters has become a collaborative global network with seven country members across the world. The aim of the Love Matters Global Network is to scale-up the cumulative impact and resources of the program by facilitating collaboration and sharing expertise and innovation in online sexuality education. The network also creates opportunities for learning and sharing knowledge, best practices, and resources among the members. To ensure sustainability, all network members gradually transition to a social franchise. In this model, each member pays to use Love Matters’ concept, brand name, educational materials, and other resources. The social franchise model allows members to raise and receive their own funds, as well.
In response to the strains on health systems and the circulation of misinformation caused by the pandemic, Love Matters in partnership with MSI Reproductive Choices and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) harnessed the power of their digital platforms and expanded digital access to fact-based SRHR information to vulnerable women and young people. During this project, Love Matters platforms in DRC, Kenya, Nigeria and Manasati30 in Yemen created inclusive content on SRHR including how to access essential reproductive health services and gender-based violence support. They also ran campaigns to raise awareness on issues of gender-based violence and provided access to online moderators who responded to questions, provided counseling, and linked young women with MSI contact centers and IPPF service providers via the digital platforms. In addition, platforms developed and shared information on sexual health in isolation, on transmission of the virus and countering misinformation, and on keeping loved ones safe during the pandemic.
Theory of Change
Creating judgement-free online communities that provide reliable information about taboos and other sensitive topics can empower young people to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, as well as know and stand up for their rights.
Love Matters seeks to create structural change by using its digital platform to talk about pleasure, rather than sticking to the conventional focus on dysfunction and avoiding disease. The program is implemented by seven network members in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, DRC, China, India, and Mexico through a social franchise model. Network activities include joint communication and events, joint research and fundraising, and coordinated global campaigns. Using mobile-friendly platforms, the network members all utilize the innovative Love Matters approach to reach young people with accessible evidence- and right-based information on love, sex, and relationships in places where such information is often censored or taboo. They also create an online space for young people to share their thoughts with their peers and to pose questions to experts. Finally, in collaboration with local and international partners, Love Matters initiates various offline activities including campaigns, concerts, installations (graffiti art, virtual reality), research projects, and presentations at international conferences. Offline activities help strengthen communities that were developed online and create a different kind of outreach and visibility.
Love Matters’ approach has put them in the limelight as a SRHR thought-leader. In 2019 alone, the project has received 123.1 million video views, 5.9 million social interactions, and 5.7 million followers across its Global Network comprised of seven partners. During its COVID-19 information campaign, Love Matters reached 3.2 million people and its fact-based content on SRHR topics was viewed almost 67.5 million times on the different platforms, demonstrating the high demand for information from a trusted source in countries where such information is often censored, taboo, or unavailable. Each of its franchise partners has had similar success. For example, Love Matters China has secured over 100 local and international partners and was asked to speak at TEDxNYUShanghai in 2018. RNW Media aims to grow the reach and scale of Love Matters by recruiting new members to the network.