Women and men who are interested in planning their families often go through a process of deliberation and decision-making as they choose when and whether to adopt family planning (FP), what method to use, where to obtain it, and whether to continue using it. In many contexts, it is also expected that newly wed couples will have their first child shortly after marriage, which limits FP method use to delay first births.
Communication is a core skill throughout the FP use spectrum – communicating with one’s partner, communicating with family and friends, and communicating with a health care provider. However, women and men are often not equipped with the skills they need to communicate effectively about their sexual life and body. Furthermore, social and gender norms often make expressing ones FP needs challenging – especially for women. As a result, women are often passive participants in family planning in the home and in the clinic, meaning FP decisions are often made by family members, male partners or providers.
To prepare women and men for more effective FP decision-making communication before, during and after a counseling visit, under its global activities, HC3 developed two “smart client” tools – one prioritizing women, and one prioritizing couples. The tools are mobile-phone, SMS- and interactive voice technology (IVR)- based and are designed to provide information and introduce practical skills to help women and their partners be informed, empowered and confident clients.
Both tools were pretested in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, and larger user studies were conducted with both tools in Kaduna, Nigeria to evaluate the effects of the tools. Participants in the user studies had very positive feedback about the content and their experience using the tools. Furthermore, both tools had a significant positive impact on users’ beliefs and intentions related to family planning.
The Smart Client and Smart Couple tools have been developed with the intention that they can be adopted and adapted by other FP projects seeking another channel for reaching their target audience. To this end, the tool documents, including the background, objectives and approach; the full scripts; and an Adaptation Guide, are all available below. In addition, the audio files are available upon request (please send requests to Caitlin Loehr).
In addition, HC3’s country program in Nepal has launched a campaign that aims to reposition FP and increase FP use among young married couples across the country under the slogan, “Parivar Niyojan Smart Banchha Jeewan” (family planning makes a smart life). Read more about the project here.