ISS wins grant to conduct study on Adolescents' Perceptions of Healthy Relationships

Dr. Kristen Cheney and Dr. Auma Okwany have won a US$450,000 grant to conduct a two-year study on Adolescents’ Perceptions of Healthy Relationships in eastern Africa and eastern Europe.

Dr. Cheney will lead the project with support from Joanna Baskott and in partnership with International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) in Leiden. 

This project was possible thanks to support from Oak Foundation. Oak chose ISS/ICDI’s proposal because they valued their experience in youth participatory action research in the project areas, as well as its emphasis on 'local ownership, advocacy as a continuous process, and commitment to safeguarding children.'

They also appreciated ISS challenging them to include younger adolescents aged 10-14 in the participatory project, which will now involve adolescents aged 10-18 as co-researchers. 

The project starts in January 2017 and will be co-implemented with local partners Nascent Research and Development Organization in Tanzania and Animus in Bulgaria.


Oak Foundation, based in Geneva, put out the call for the research project to enhance their Child Abuse Programme, which is aimed at preventing child sexual abuse and exploitation by improving environments for children so that they can grow up safely and securely.

The programme identified promoting healthy relationships as a key strategy to contribute towards violence prevention through developing gender equitable attitudes and behaviours among young boys and girls. In order to inform relevant interventions for adolescents, however, they deemed it essential to better understand adolescents’ own views of healthy relationships in order to identify strengths, vulnerabilities, and values in adolescents’ ideals, perceptions, and practices in relationships.