The result is Yaya, a character-led app, with strong relatable characters who guide and help the girls to explore the content, including sensitive and complex information that is new to them. The main character, Yaya, is an older sister and relatable role model who motivates and celebrates the girls. ‘Mbuya’ is a grandmother, the trusted older relative, who is compassionate and understanding.
The translation and voice actors were critical to ensure the language, dialect and tone of the voices were understandable and relatable to all of the girls. With vocabulary and dialects varying across the project areas, not to mention the lack of vocabulary for certain terms and body parts, this process was both challenging and time consuming, but also crucial to success. Through community consultations and the help of local language translators, we were able to strike the difficult balance of giving the girls the information they need, while working sensitively within the wider cultural context of the communities they live in. We worked with the co-creation groups and a local branding agency to create bespoke images that could bring the characters and audio content to life.
Engaging the target audience in the development and testing of the content, the voices and characters names, as well as the images and branding, has ensured that all parts of the app are familiar, relevant and relatable for the girls, avoiding negative connotations and associations with negative cultural practises. Safeguarding testing was an important final step to ensure the app contained no harmful language.