International Conference on Family Planning 2009

Family Planning: Research and Best Practices

The Husband’s Role

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A husband’s influence on family planning decisions–much discussed at the ICFP conference–varies with the setting, according to a study by Annabel Erulkar, of the Population Council, Ethiopia.

In more urban areas, the wife has more influence over family planning decisions. But in traditional, rural settings, it seems that the husbands have more influence than wives.

Erulkar outlined the “Addis Birhan” program, which explores how to best involve men in family planning. “Addis Birhan” used male mentors who mobilize husbands at the village level, and it adapted its message for rural Ethiopian settings. While addressing sexual and reproductive health, the program focused as well on non-violence and the responsibilities of men to care for their families. Aiding the program’s success were the pictures used as teaching aids—most of the beneficiaries of the program do not have adequate literacy to read.

“There is a significant demand for this program,” said Erulkar. In 18 months, 20,000 men were enrolled. “This program demonstrates that rural men in traditional settings can be reached with reproductive health and family planning initiatives.”

Written by C. Grillo | JHSPH

November 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm

One Response

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  1. This sounds like a wonderful program, I’m happy that it is proving successful – 20,000 enrolled! from stories i’ve heard about working with people from (more) male-dominant cultures, it is very difficult to get men on board with programs that stress non-violence toward women and sexual responsibility, because this mindset undermines their perceived authority. I suppose this program works with the mind-set that is already there, but provides more information–rather than encouraging men to relinquish authority over family planning decisions, and see their wives as equals.

    Caroline (

    November 17, 2009 at 7:54 pm

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