Learning Collaborative Measurement Project Summaries
Project summary
21 January 2021

Kissa Kahani

Author: Rebecca Justus
Published by: The Learning Collaborative to Advance Normative Change

Organizations involved

Ci3 at the University of Chicago, LEAD [formerly the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) LEAD]


Kissa Kahani was an international project from 2015-2017 funded by a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Challenge Grant as part of an initiative to better understand the role of gender in adolescent reproductive health. Kissa Kahani was a transmedia intervention designed to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of very young adolescents (VYA), ages 12-14, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. Kissa Kahani uses digital storytelling, graphic novels, and games to educate VYAs about their bodies and about gender-based discrimination. Kissa Kahani worked to ensure active youth engagement and empowerment through participatory research methods and to strengthen the capacity of local communities and organizations to scale and sustain novel solutions in adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Social norms of interest

Gender norms relating to early marriage and childbearing; girls’ education; girls’ mobility; menstrual hygiene

Behaviors of interest

Early marriage and childbearing; son preference; sexual harassment; menstruation related myths and taboos

Project components

The project uses narrative and story-based data collection in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India to help young people discuss topics surrounding sexual and reproductive health that are often challenging to talk about. Ci3’s storytelling lab created digital stories with young people in which they told important stories about their lives focusing on issues of gender, street harassment and life aspirations. Over six weeks, nearly 30 stories were collected to learn more about young people and to help them gain skills in areas such as storytelling, photography and design. Kissa Kahani will be implemented in nearly 100 government schools in India, educating more than 3,000 adolescents. Using a randomized control trial method, Ci3 researchers will evaluate the intervention's effects on young people's knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors pertaining to sexual and reproductive health topics and gender norms. Future plans include disseminating Kissa Kahani to all young people enrolled in government schools with support from the Indian government.

Social norms measurement

The multimedia components in Kissa Kahani were designed based on data gathered from formative research. The formative research was conducted using a mix of quantitative (survey) and qualitative research methods (in-depth interviews; digital storytelling workshop; story circles; body mapping; storytelling game; and, human-centered design workshop).

Key findings to date

The formative research found that gender-based discrimination has negative impacts on the lives of girls and boys. For girls, gender-based norms result in challenges with menstruation, education, and their ability to leave the house alone. These barriers have lifelong consequences, including early marriage and childbearing; and, lack of financial independence and agency. For boys, they face pressure to marry and to provide for their families. In addition, due to the social stigma and lack of comprehensive sex education in schools and at home, adolescents lack understanding of sexual and reproductive health issues that limits their ability to realize their full potential. A randomized control testing of the intervention is planned in public schools in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Attribution statement

The survey tool was adapted from the Population Council survey on adolescents and youth in India. Qualitative research tools were developed by Ci3 experts in consultation with our partners in India. Please contact Suchi Bansal for study tools.

McCammon, E., Bansal, S., Hebert, L. E., Yan, S., Menendez, A., and Gilliam, M. (2020) Exploring young women's menstruation-related challenges in India using the socio-ecological framework. Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, Volume 28, Issue 1.

Hebert, L. E., Bansal, S., Young Lee, S., Yan, S., Akinola,M., Rhyne, M., Menendez, A., and Gilliam, M. (2019) Understanding young women's experiences of gender inequality in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, through story circles. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth.

Ci3 at The University of Chicago (2019) Understanding and Increasing Gender Equity for Adolescents Through Storytelling: Kissa Kahani. Online: Ci3 at The University of Chicago.


Back to the "Map of social norms-focused interventions and research"

Back to the map