Family Planning in India has made tremendous strides world over and in India, with increased incidence of better family planning practices such as use of contraceptives, child spacing among others. However, it still remains a taboo in India and is much less talked about, even between the family members.
PCI India’s strong focus on improved family planning is centred around enhanced awareness, a clearer understanding of the importance of family planning in the overall welfare of the family and a corresponding change in the attitudes and behaviours followed by the community.
We understand that family planning practices or the lack of it are strongly influenced by several factors including social, religious, caste and patriarchal influences on the individual and the family. Decisions on family planning are also a collective decision and mostly driven by the family members including the mother-in-law and the male spouse as a partner and key bread winner for the family. Hence, targeting only women for achieving family planning outcomes is not enough. With this critical understanding, PCI adopts a multi-dimensional approach to family planning in its programming. Our interventions target all these spheres of influence for improved communication between family members and a strong realization of its importance, thereby bringing about an improvement in family planning outcomes.
Various social and behavioural biases which inhibit adoption of best practices are effectively addressed through appropriate levers. Traditional methods of creating awareness about the importance of family planning are not found to be effective in modifying the attitudes and practices. Hence, we have developed and successfully tested modern and innovative means of creating the required change.
We identify the most significant barriers to the adoption of best family planning practices and tailor our strategy based on the identified levers. This approach was successfully tested with the Family Lab initiative we launched as a part of the JEEViKA Technical Support Project in Bihar. Our unique approach gained a lot of traction among young couples and their family members, thereby improving family planning outcomes significantly.
We believe that it is very important to engage all the relevant actors continuously through multiple means and channels and help in the realization of planned parenthood – from bearing and managing childbirth to psycho-emotional journey of being parents. We use our ‘Onion Peel Approach’ to continuously engage the couples, their families and the community at large on family planning issues. We have developed various tools and techniques to make the interactions more interactive and interesting for all participants, at each level. This constant feedback and imbibing of the importance of family planning has brought about attitude and behaviour change among the community.
Targeting couples instead of just the female spouses has given us much better results. We introduced a ‘Couple CRP’ (Community resource person) intervention to evolve the attitude and behavior of couples and their families from family planning to family well-being. The CRP couple uses several innovative tools to effectively engage the target couples to help them in increasing awareness and knowledge about family planning and then practice the same, for a better family. PCI identified one of the most significant barriers in effective family planning – the lack of inter-spousal communication of family planning. This is more so for couples who stay away from each other for reasons of work. To overcome this barrier, we adopted modern technology and are in process of developing a Couple Challenge Gamification App. This used the underlying social behavior change and consumer behavior principles wherein continuous and focused engagement is affected through the game.
All our family planning programs are evidence-based and designed to overcome the underlying communication barriers among couples, trigger family planning decisions and actions for a sustained behavior change.