Reproductive justice links reproductive rights with the social, political, and economic inequalities that affect people’s access to reproductive health care services. To overcome these barriers, the MAMA Network centers on grassroots work and peer-to-peer support — developed by health workers and women themselves — to disseminate accurate information about medical abortion, facilitate access to reliable medication and a spectrum of care practices, and meet people where they are and reduce harm.
It’s in this spirit that the MAMA Network has launched Mama Sophia: a free, private, and secure mobile app filled with sexual and reproductive health information and resources. People who download the Mama Sophia app can use it to track their period cycle and log their symptoms, calculate the length of a pregnancy, or learn more about contraception and safe abortion.
Everything on this app is confidential, so people can feel safe and confident using it to take care of their own health.
The story of Mama Sophia traces back to 2018, when the MAMA Network’s founding members, Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) and Generation Initiative for Women and Youth Network (GIWYN), collaborated with Ibis Reproductive Health on formative research. This research was conducted to understand the role and use of technology for seeking information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, specifically abortion, and to understand from potential users what information they may like to access in a potential app.
These key findings informed the thinking and development of the Mama Sophia app. For example, participants told us they wanted the app to provide information in a private, accurate, destigmatized, easily accessible, inclusive, and interactive manner. They also identified potential challenges, including cost, privacy and security, as well as limited internet access and phone data.
The potential users of this app — anyone of reproductive age, and more specifically, young people and women in East Africa — were centered during the development process. This Community Advisory Team provided their input on the app, so that Mama Sophia would meet their needs and offer them the a trusted, non-judgmental resource.
Think of Mama Sophia as a supportive aunty or a trusted friend whom one can turn to for advice, guidance, or to simply feel seen and understood.
The app has a number of different features. For people who want to track their menstrual cycle, there’s a customized period tracker. If you suspect you’re pregnant, you can use a similar feature called the pregnancy calculator to figure out the length of the pregnancy.
Other features include an entire section dedicated to learning about contraceptive methods, including a quiz to see which methods might work well for you based on your preferences. We also have a feature that provides information about safe abortion, and lists resources for people to determine the legal status of abortion in their own country. If you need help navigating the app or have questions, you can use the Speak to Mama Sophia chatbot. If you have a more time-sensitive request for support or you need someone to talk to, our Connect with an Expert feature includes a few options where you can call hotlines operated by TICAH and GIWYN or email our partner Women Help Women.
With Mama Sophia, user safety is paramount.
No one is able to access your data in the app unless they know your app password. This data is stored locally on your phone and is not accessible to the MAMA Network or Women Help Women, the app publisher. The app also allows the user to quickly close out of it or set up a privacy screen, and it has the option to easily delete app data if needed. The Mama Sophia app is a revolutionary app for the simple fact that users can use it without internet access once it’s downloaded for free, transcending class barriers to reach anyone of reproductive age who needs it.
To learn more, download the free Mama Sophia app from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store. You can follow the Mama Sophia app on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and share your feedback and questions with us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAMA – Mobilizing Activists around Medical Abortion – is a network of 59 organizations in 28 countries that supports those who seek self-managed abortions by abortion pills in Africa.
TICAH, a founding member of the MAMA Network, is a SAAF grantee partner based in Kenya. You can read more about their work here.