Salma Begum: Inspiring Indian mother-in-laws to empower their families

Like most of the women in her small town in India, Salma Begum got married at a young age. By the time she was in her mid-thirties, she was raising 11 sons on her husband’s salary as a day laborer.

Now in her sixties, Salma recalls how she never imagined her life could be any different. She didn’t know any woman who had been able to determine when—or whether—to get pregnant. But after she met PSI’s Zeenat Haideri, she knew things wouldn’t be the same for her six daughters-in-law.

Zeenat arrived at Salma’s home as part of her work doing door-to-door education for PSI’s Pehel family planning program. Salma had heard of the program and wanted to learn about the services available to help women either space or limit their families. With her child-bearing days long behind her, she wanted to make sure her daughters-in-law knew they had options.

Since Indian mothers-in-law play an important role in making decisions about their children’s families, Salma knew that her involvement was key. She took up the challenge of educating her family members, motivating them to explore available planning options. After individually consulting with PSI network doctors in their region, all six daughters-in-law chose to use long-term contraceptive IUCDs and recommend the services to others in their town.

When asked about their mother-in-law, each woman talks about how grateful and proud she is that Salma took the initiative to learn and teach them about family planning. With their encouragement, Salma has become a role model in her community, teaching other mothers-in-law how to empower their own families.

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Country: India
Health Areas: Reproductive Health