Developed in 2016 in partnership with the YWCA Southern Arizona, Mamas e Hijas (Mothers and Daughters) is a 12-week comprehensive and culturally-tailored sexuality education program for Latina mothers/caregivers and their 9-12 year old daughters. The final product of a 5-month community assessment, Mamas e Hijas was created to address reports of adolescent sexual harassment and stalking, encourage family communication about taboo topics, and increase parental knowledge and confidence. Mamas e Hijas promotes sustainability and education through the life course, using a parent figure (mothers, aunts, grandmothers) to strategically intervene as a child grows and develops.
Mamas e Hijas recognizes that parents/caregivers play a large role in shaping their child's health behaviors, especially behaviors related to sexual health and reproduction. Research suggests that adolescents whose parents or guardians talk to them about sexuality and effectively monitor or supervise their behavior are 1) more likely to delay sexual intercourse, 2) use contraception correctly and more consistently, and 3) have fewer sexual partners. The intention of Mamas e Hijas is to create a safe space for caregivers and daughters to learn about sexuality without judgment, engage in sensitive discussions, practice skills and strategies to promote wellness, and begin communicating about family values.
Mamas e Hijas is offered through the Latina Leadership Institute (LLI) at the YWCA Southern Arizona each fall and spring on Wednesday nights from 5:30-7:30 PM. During the first 7 weeks, caregivers and daughters learn in separate classrooms to review age-appropriate content. While daughters explore adolescent development (social, cognitive, emotional, and physical changes), healthy versus unhealthy relationships, and rejection, mothers learn about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraception, sexual identity, and sexual and domestic violence. During the final 5 weeks, caregivers and daughters join together to build assertive communication and conflict-resolution skills, learn about sexuality in the media, and practice self-love. Through Mamas e Hijas, caregivers and daughters are provided an opportunity to examine and understand their values, attitudes, and opinions about sexuality while building community with their peers and families.
We recently integrated trauma-sensitive practices in the Mamas e Hijas curriculum, understanding that sexuality education can uncover previous experiences of violence.
Mamas e Hijas is facilitated by 2 young women ("Hijas") and 2 former program participants ("Mamas"). Interns/volunteers are recruited from the University of Arizona College of Public Health and partner with Imelda Esquer (Program Manager) to support program coordination and implementation. To ensure program fidelity and effectiveness, evaluation is rigorous and includes interviews/focus groups, pre- and post-tests, demographic surveys, mid-semester surveys, and a summative video. Since Fall 2017, 50+ caregiver-daughter dyads have completed the program with preliminary outcomes including increased utilization of preventive services and frequency of sex-related conversations as well as improved relationship quality, communication skills, and self esteem.
We are proud to collaborate with YWCA Southern Arizona and Planned Parenthood (Southern Arizona Regional Health Center) to provide tools and resources for Latinx families to promote sexual health and wellness. It is our goal to continue expanding Mamas e Hijas to reach more families in the Southern Arizona region, as well as create a partner program for fathers and non-traditional families.
For more information about Mamas e Hijas, please contact Lindsay Bingham, Health Educator Sr. (firstname.lastname@example.org)