Founded in 2012, the Daughters of the Diaspora (DoD) is a national nonprofit working to teach young Black girls on the importance of reproductive health and sex education.

In an interview with the Inquirer Philly, the organization’s Philadelphia site director Shanaye Jeffers explains that many girls are ignorant of their bodies’ sexual health and functions. For Black girls, the stigma is compounded as they are underserved by their school’s curriculum and are labeled “fast” within their communities for asking sexual questions at home.

“Sex ed is not serving young Black women really at all,” said Jeffers.

According to a Washington University study, American Black students are more likely to receive abstinence-only education than their white counterparts. For Black African immigrants, the stigma around sex is even further impacted to the taboo topic of HIV, which causes half a million deaths each year throughout the continent. Black girls also have a higher risk of teenage pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Jeffers adds that the problem is compounded because even if Black students receive a more comprehensive sex education, the curriculum usually centers white American culture.

“I really want to break the cycle,” Jeffers said.

Daughters of the Diaspora works to educate Black teenage girls in Southwest Philadelphia on contraception, female anatomy, and sexual health by recruiting medical students to teach them. All the recruited medical students are Black women. Jeffers herself is a obstetrics and gynecology resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

“We try to get these young ladies to see themselves in a way they probably haven’t before,” Jeffers said. “As agents of their own health.”