Research shows that significant socio-cultural and structural barriers to creating demand for FP persist. Cultural norms value high fertility, and gender equity issues prevent many women from making decisions regarding their own health and fertility. Therefore, innovative approaches are needed to effectively engage men. The overall objective of this work is to 1) increase the capacity of local FP implementers to use Human Centered Design (HCD) in designing quality FP programs targeting men, and 2) connect them with non-traditional actors who might provide new perspectives that strengthen male engagement interventions.
Overall, the project follows a three-phase process to identify, prototype, and pilot new and innovative interventions:
- Innovation Lab phase: A four-day participative workshop (“Innovation Lab”) took place in Ouagadougou. Using HCD principles of inspiration and ideation and with the input from non-traditional participants (e.g., entrepreneurs, musicians, comedians) five teams identified interventions to increase male engagement in FP. The Innovation Lab ended with three interventions being selected for the prototyping phase.
- Prototyping phase: The NGOs working on the selected interventions will receive on-the ground support from Transform/PHARE to develop a prototype and further test and refine their interventions. The prototyping phase ends with the selection of 1-2 interventions being selected for a pilot.
- Pilot phase: During a three-month period, the selected NGOs received support from Transform/PHARE to pilot their interventions.
In Year Three, following the Innovations Lab described above, several ideas were rapidly prototyped on different ways to engage men as supporters and/or as agents of change. One idea was selected, and a short-term project was implemented under the name Père Burkinbila. The activity consisted of organizing fathers’ clubs in four villages, and these fathers were trained on ways to talk to their adolescent sons about sexuality, gender equality, and contraception. The project included some visual aids to help the fathers discuss with their sons, and trained facilitators conducted house visits to help participating fathers engage with their sons. At the end of the trial period, parents and community members expressed appreciation for the activity, with the vast majority of the participating fathers having demonstrated increased ability and willingness to engage with their sons on issues such as responsible sexuality, gender roles and contraception. All men participating in the clubs received a certificate nominating them as Pères Burkinbila.
Some notable results from the Père Burkinbila activity include:
- Fathers have started talking with their sons about sexuality, they still prefer their sons to remain abstinent, but they acknowledge this is not always possible.
- Fathers have learned that when they don’t have specific information their sons ask, for example about contraceptives, they can refer them to the health center where they will get the information.
- Fathers and mothers have stated some of their sons are now engaging in chores usually performed by girls, for example washing the dishes, which seems to indicate that gender norms and roles could be starting to be interpreted more openly.
An open source toolkit will be developed to guide implementers on replicating the Père Burkinbila model – teaching fathers how to discuss with their adolescent sons, SRH topics such as responsible sexuality, gender equality, unplanned pregnancy and contraception.