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Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

 "Stigma, myths and cultural practices can have a damaging effect on sexual  health, family planning and women’s rights"

Nepal

Story

How cultural traditions affect women’s health

11 August 2017

High up in the mountains of central northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan border

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Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal
story

| 11 August 2017

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal

 “When I was about to give birth, we called for an ambulance or a vehicle to help but even after five hours of calling, no vehicle arrived,” recalls 32-year-old Mona Shrestha. “The birth was difficult. For five hours I had to suffer from delivery complications.” Mona’s story is a familiar one for women in rural Nepal. Like thousands of women across the country, she lives in a small, remote village, at the end of a winding, potholed road. There are no permanent medical facilities or staff based in the village of Bakultar: medical camps occasionally arrive to dispense services, but they are few and far between. Life here is tough. The main livelihood is farming: both men and women toil in the fields during the day, and in the mornings and evenings, women take care of their children and carry out household chores. The nearest birthing centre is an hour’s drive away. Few families can afford to rent a seat in a car, and so are forced to do the journey on foot. For pregnant women walking in the searing heat, this journey can be arduous, even life-threatening. “Fifteen years ago, there was a woman who helped women give birth here, but she’s no longer here,” Mona says. “It’s difficult for women.” Giving birth without medical help can cause severe problems for women and babies, and even death. Infant mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death among women. Only 36% of births are attended by a doctor, nurse or midwife.  A traumatic birth can cause long-term physical, psychological, social and economic problems from which women might never recover. Access to contraception and other family planning services, too, involves walking miles to the nearest health clinic. Mona says she used to use the contraceptive injection, but now uses an intrauterine device. Like many villages in Nepal, Bakultar is awash with myths and gossip about the side-effects of contraception. “There are so many side effects to these devices – I’ve heard the coil can cause cancer,” Mona says. “This is why we want to have permanent family planning like sterilisation, for both men and women.” These complaints heard frequently in villages like Bakultar. As well as access to facilities and contraception, people here desperately need access to education on contraception and sexual health and reproductive rights. Misinformation as well as a lack of information are both major problems. “It would be really helpful to have family planning services nearby,” says Mona.

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal
story

| 06 October 2022

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal

 “When I was about to give birth, we called for an ambulance or a vehicle to help but even after five hours of calling, no vehicle arrived,” recalls 32-year-old Mona Shrestha. “The birth was difficult. For five hours I had to suffer from delivery complications.” Mona’s story is a familiar one for women in rural Nepal. Like thousands of women across the country, she lives in a small, remote village, at the end of a winding, potholed road. There are no permanent medical facilities or staff based in the village of Bakultar: medical camps occasionally arrive to dispense services, but they are few and far between. Life here is tough. The main livelihood is farming: both men and women toil in the fields during the day, and in the mornings and evenings, women take care of their children and carry out household chores. The nearest birthing centre is an hour’s drive away. Few families can afford to rent a seat in a car, and so are forced to do the journey on foot. For pregnant women walking in the searing heat, this journey can be arduous, even life-threatening. “Fifteen years ago, there was a woman who helped women give birth here, but she’s no longer here,” Mona says. “It’s difficult for women.” Giving birth without medical help can cause severe problems for women and babies, and even death. Infant mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death among women. Only 36% of births are attended by a doctor, nurse or midwife.  A traumatic birth can cause long-term physical, psychological, social and economic problems from which women might never recover. Access to contraception and other family planning services, too, involves walking miles to the nearest health clinic. Mona says she used to use the contraceptive injection, but now uses an intrauterine device. Like many villages in Nepal, Bakultar is awash with myths and gossip about the side-effects of contraception. “There are so many side effects to these devices – I’ve heard the coil can cause cancer,” Mona says. “This is why we want to have permanent family planning like sterilisation, for both men and women.” These complaints heard frequently in villages like Bakultar. As well as access to facilities and contraception, people here desperately need access to education on contraception and sexual health and reproductive rights. Misinformation as well as a lack of information are both major problems. “It would be really helpful to have family planning services nearby,” says Mona.

Non-governmental organisation in Maldives establishes a family planning clinic
story

| 11 January 2017

Helping families bond together

Mariyam a 25-year-old woman, who lived in Addu Atoll in Maldives, was having a battle of wits with Ahmed, her young three year old. He threw temper tantrums and just couldn’t be disciplined. Thankfully, one day Mariyam attended a session on better parenting skills organised by Society of Health & Education (SHE). SHE was the first non-governmental organisation in Maldives to establish a family planning clinic where couples could get information, education and counselling to plan their families. It also provides psycho-social support and counselling to children and adults. Through various approaches such as play therapy, children as well as adults are helped to develop life skills and cope with the grief, anger, anguish and possible abuse in their life. During the session on parenting, Mariyam requested for help in dealing with Ahmed. Thereafter through extended telephonic counselling sessions; it was revealed that Mariyam was currently pregnant with her fourth child. Her husband worked away from home and visited occasionally during holidays. Her pregnancy, combined with childcare needs at home, was taking a toll on Mariyam, making her feel weak and irritable, even overwhelmed at times. Understanding this, the counsellor suggested that she set aside a time to play with her son every day. When Mariyam put it into practice, she discovered that all her son wanted from her was some attention. The counsellor then helped her and her husband explore different family planning options when her husband came visiting the household. Together they decided to adopt a family planning option once Mariyam had delivered. He also decided to stay on the island for a few months and work at his father’s carpentry in order to help his wife to look after the children post-delivery. The couple visited SHE clinic for counselling on contraceptives post delivery and Mariyam has been a client ever since.

Non-governmental organisation in Maldives establishes a family planning clinic
story

| 06 October 2022

Helping families bond together

Mariyam a 25-year-old woman, who lived in Addu Atoll in Maldives, was having a battle of wits with Ahmed, her young three year old. He threw temper tantrums and just couldn’t be disciplined. Thankfully, one day Mariyam attended a session on better parenting skills organised by Society of Health & Education (SHE). SHE was the first non-governmental organisation in Maldives to establish a family planning clinic where couples could get information, education and counselling to plan their families. It also provides psycho-social support and counselling to children and adults. Through various approaches such as play therapy, children as well as adults are helped to develop life skills and cope with the grief, anger, anguish and possible abuse in their life. During the session on parenting, Mariyam requested for help in dealing with Ahmed. Thereafter through extended telephonic counselling sessions; it was revealed that Mariyam was currently pregnant with her fourth child. Her husband worked away from home and visited occasionally during holidays. Her pregnancy, combined with childcare needs at home, was taking a toll on Mariyam, making her feel weak and irritable, even overwhelmed at times. Understanding this, the counsellor suggested that she set aside a time to play with her son every day. When Mariyam put it into practice, she discovered that all her son wanted from her was some attention. The counsellor then helped her and her husband explore different family planning options when her husband came visiting the household. Together they decided to adopt a family planning option once Mariyam had delivered. He also decided to stay on the island for a few months and work at his father’s carpentry in order to help his wife to look after the children post-delivery. The couple visited SHE clinic for counselling on contraceptives post delivery and Mariyam has been a client ever since.

Women’s collective pools money and resources to get a clinic in their area.
story

| 11 January 2017

Changing lives across generations

Indumati, her (now departed) mother-in-law and her three daughters-in-law represent three generations of women in Maharashtra, India who have benefitted from the services of Family Planning Association of India. All three generations have been a part of women’s collectives’ movement encouraging women to participate in the socio-economic life of the family and community. Becoming a member of the women’s collectives helped Indumati to step beyond the boundaries of her home and begin participating in the community life of the village. Be it cleanliness drives in the village or celebrating all festivals with equal fervour created spaces for the women to contribute to the social wellbeing of the village. The next stop was micro-savings for economic independence. When the women realised that the women of their and neighbouring villages don’t have any healthcare services, they approached Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) to start a clinic in their area. When FPAI agreed the women’s group pooled money and contributed towards the building of the clinic. With increased access to healthcare services came increased awareness. Most women’s group imparted training on SRHR to the collective members. Some collective members even began to stock the contraceptives provided by FPAI so that women could access them in privacy and confidentiality. Indumati has three sons and one daughter. Each of her three sons has two children each. Her daughters-in-law were able to get information and adopted family planning methods due to her involvement with the women’s collectives. The inter-generational impact of access to family planning services is clearly visible in her household.

Women’s collective pools money and resources to get a clinic in their area.
story

| 06 October 2022

Changing lives across generations

Indumati, her (now departed) mother-in-law and her three daughters-in-law represent three generations of women in Maharashtra, India who have benefitted from the services of Family Planning Association of India. All three generations have been a part of women’s collectives’ movement encouraging women to participate in the socio-economic life of the family and community. Becoming a member of the women’s collectives helped Indumati to step beyond the boundaries of her home and begin participating in the community life of the village. Be it cleanliness drives in the village or celebrating all festivals with equal fervour created spaces for the women to contribute to the social wellbeing of the village. The next stop was micro-savings for economic independence. When the women realised that the women of their and neighbouring villages don’t have any healthcare services, they approached Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) to start a clinic in their area. When FPAI agreed the women’s group pooled money and contributed towards the building of the clinic. With increased access to healthcare services came increased awareness. Most women’s group imparted training on SRHR to the collective members. Some collective members even began to stock the contraceptives provided by FPAI so that women could access them in privacy and confidentiality. Indumati has three sons and one daughter. Each of her three sons has two children each. Her daughters-in-law were able to get information and adopted family planning methods due to her involvement with the women’s collectives. The inter-generational impact of access to family planning services is clearly visible in her household.

story

| 05 October 2016

Battling stigma in the Kathmandu Valley

 “People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. ‘You’re not a good girl,  you’re not of good character’ they’d say. They called me many bad things.”  “But later on, after getting married, whenever I visited those families they came and said:  ‘you did a really good job. We realise that now and feel sorry for what we said before.”  Rita Chawal is recalling her time as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association of  Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation. Her experiences point to the crucial importance of family planning education and support in Nepal, a country still affected by severe maternal and infant mortality rates and poor access to contraception.  Poor government services, remote communities, a failing transport network and strict patriarchal structures can make access to family planning and health services a  challenge for many people across the country. Services like FPAN’s are vital to reach as many people as possible. Rita is now 32 years old and herself a client of FPAN. She lives with her husband and six-year-old son in Bhaktapur, an ancient temple city, 15 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu. Before getting married, she spent 10 years working as a family planning youth volunteer for FPAN, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception. Her time at the organisation set her in good stead for married life: after marrying she approached FPAN right away to get family planning support, antenatal classes, and, later on, contraception. “I had all this knowledge, so I decided to come and take the services,” she says. “I found that the services here were very good.” But Rita is far from the norm. She shudders when she recalls the abuse she received from neighbours and her community when she worked distributing contraception. Stigma still surrounds contraception in many places: for an unmarried young woman like Rita to be distributing condoms was seen as immoral by many, particularly older, people, even in an urban setting like Bhaktapur. Stigma can be even more extreme in rural areas. Across Nepal, rumours about the side effects of different contraceptive devices are also a problem. Attitudes are slowly changing. Rita says people now come to her whenever they have a family planning problem. “I have become a role model for the community,” she says. She herself is now using the contraceptive implant, a decision she arrived at after discussing different options with FPAN volunteers. She has tried different methods. After her son’s birth, she began using the contraceptive injection. “After the injection, I shifted to oral pills for six months, but that didn’t suit me,” she says. “It gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy. So I had a consultation with FPAN and they advised me to use the implant. I use it now and feel really good and safe. It’s been five years now.” This kind of advice and support can transform the lives of entire families in Nepal. Reductions in maternal and infant mortality, sexual health, female empowerment and dignity, and access to safe abortion are just a few of the life-changing benefits that organisations like FPAN can bring.

story

| 06 October 2022

Battling stigma in the Kathmandu Valley

 “People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. ‘You’re not a good girl,  you’re not of good character’ they’d say. They called me many bad things.”  “But later on, after getting married, whenever I visited those families they came and said:  ‘you did a really good job. We realise that now and feel sorry for what we said before.”  Rita Chawal is recalling her time as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association of  Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation. Her experiences point to the crucial importance of family planning education and support in Nepal, a country still affected by severe maternal and infant mortality rates and poor access to contraception.  Poor government services, remote communities, a failing transport network and strict patriarchal structures can make access to family planning and health services a  challenge for many people across the country. Services like FPAN’s are vital to reach as many people as possible. Rita is now 32 years old and herself a client of FPAN. She lives with her husband and six-year-old son in Bhaktapur, an ancient temple city, 15 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu. Before getting married, she spent 10 years working as a family planning youth volunteer for FPAN, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception. Her time at the organisation set her in good stead for married life: after marrying she approached FPAN right away to get family planning support, antenatal classes, and, later on, contraception. “I had all this knowledge, so I decided to come and take the services,” she says. “I found that the services here were very good.” But Rita is far from the norm. She shudders when she recalls the abuse she received from neighbours and her community when she worked distributing contraception. Stigma still surrounds contraception in many places: for an unmarried young woman like Rita to be distributing condoms was seen as immoral by many, particularly older, people, even in an urban setting like Bhaktapur. Stigma can be even more extreme in rural areas. Across Nepal, rumours about the side effects of different contraceptive devices are also a problem. Attitudes are slowly changing. Rita says people now come to her whenever they have a family planning problem. “I have become a role model for the community,” she says. She herself is now using the contraceptive implant, a decision she arrived at after discussing different options with FPAN volunteers. She has tried different methods. After her son’s birth, she began using the contraceptive injection. “After the injection, I shifted to oral pills for six months, but that didn’t suit me,” she says. “It gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy. So I had a consultation with FPAN and they advised me to use the implant. I use it now and feel really good and safe. It’s been five years now.” This kind of advice and support can transform the lives of entire families in Nepal. Reductions in maternal and infant mortality, sexual health, female empowerment and dignity, and access to safe abortion are just a few of the life-changing benefits that organisations like FPAN can bring.

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal
story

| 11 August 2017

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal

 “When I was about to give birth, we called for an ambulance or a vehicle to help but even after five hours of calling, no vehicle arrived,” recalls 32-year-old Mona Shrestha. “The birth was difficult. For five hours I had to suffer from delivery complications.” Mona’s story is a familiar one for women in rural Nepal. Like thousands of women across the country, she lives in a small, remote village, at the end of a winding, potholed road. There are no permanent medical facilities or staff based in the village of Bakultar: medical camps occasionally arrive to dispense services, but they are few and far between. Life here is tough. The main livelihood is farming: both men and women toil in the fields during the day, and in the mornings and evenings, women take care of their children and carry out household chores. The nearest birthing centre is an hour’s drive away. Few families can afford to rent a seat in a car, and so are forced to do the journey on foot. For pregnant women walking in the searing heat, this journey can be arduous, even life-threatening. “Fifteen years ago, there was a woman who helped women give birth here, but she’s no longer here,” Mona says. “It’s difficult for women.” Giving birth without medical help can cause severe problems for women and babies, and even death. Infant mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death among women. Only 36% of births are attended by a doctor, nurse or midwife.  A traumatic birth can cause long-term physical, psychological, social and economic problems from which women might never recover. Access to contraception and other family planning services, too, involves walking miles to the nearest health clinic. Mona says she used to use the contraceptive injection, but now uses an intrauterine device. Like many villages in Nepal, Bakultar is awash with myths and gossip about the side-effects of contraception. “There are so many side effects to these devices – I’ve heard the coil can cause cancer,” Mona says. “This is why we want to have permanent family planning like sterilisation, for both men and women.” These complaints heard frequently in villages like Bakultar. As well as access to facilities and contraception, people here desperately need access to education on contraception and sexual health and reproductive rights. Misinformation as well as a lack of information are both major problems. “It would be really helpful to have family planning services nearby,” says Mona.

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal
story

| 06 October 2022

Waiting for an ambulance that never arrives: childbirth without medical help in rural Nepal

 “When I was about to give birth, we called for an ambulance or a vehicle to help but even after five hours of calling, no vehicle arrived,” recalls 32-year-old Mona Shrestha. “The birth was difficult. For five hours I had to suffer from delivery complications.” Mona’s story is a familiar one for women in rural Nepal. Like thousands of women across the country, she lives in a small, remote village, at the end of a winding, potholed road. There are no permanent medical facilities or staff based in the village of Bakultar: medical camps occasionally arrive to dispense services, but they are few and far between. Life here is tough. The main livelihood is farming: both men and women toil in the fields during the day, and in the mornings and evenings, women take care of their children and carry out household chores. The nearest birthing centre is an hour’s drive away. Few families can afford to rent a seat in a car, and so are forced to do the journey on foot. For pregnant women walking in the searing heat, this journey can be arduous, even life-threatening. “Fifteen years ago, there was a woman who helped women give birth here, but she’s no longer here,” Mona says. “It’s difficult for women.” Giving birth without medical help can cause severe problems for women and babies, and even death. Infant mortality remains a major problem in Nepal, and maternal mortality is one of the leading causes of death among women. Only 36% of births are attended by a doctor, nurse or midwife.  A traumatic birth can cause long-term physical, psychological, social and economic problems from which women might never recover. Access to contraception and other family planning services, too, involves walking miles to the nearest health clinic. Mona says she used to use the contraceptive injection, but now uses an intrauterine device. Like many villages in Nepal, Bakultar is awash with myths and gossip about the side-effects of contraception. “There are so many side effects to these devices – I’ve heard the coil can cause cancer,” Mona says. “This is why we want to have permanent family planning like sterilisation, for both men and women.” These complaints heard frequently in villages like Bakultar. As well as access to facilities and contraception, people here desperately need access to education on contraception and sexual health and reproductive rights. Misinformation as well as a lack of information are both major problems. “It would be really helpful to have family planning services nearby,” says Mona.

Non-governmental organisation in Maldives establishes a family planning clinic
story

| 11 January 2017

Helping families bond together

Mariyam a 25-year-old woman, who lived in Addu Atoll in Maldives, was having a battle of wits with Ahmed, her young three year old. He threw temper tantrums and just couldn’t be disciplined. Thankfully, one day Mariyam attended a session on better parenting skills organised by Society of Health & Education (SHE). SHE was the first non-governmental organisation in Maldives to establish a family planning clinic where couples could get information, education and counselling to plan their families. It also provides psycho-social support and counselling to children and adults. Through various approaches such as play therapy, children as well as adults are helped to develop life skills and cope with the grief, anger, anguish and possible abuse in their life. During the session on parenting, Mariyam requested for help in dealing with Ahmed. Thereafter through extended telephonic counselling sessions; it was revealed that Mariyam was currently pregnant with her fourth child. Her husband worked away from home and visited occasionally during holidays. Her pregnancy, combined with childcare needs at home, was taking a toll on Mariyam, making her feel weak and irritable, even overwhelmed at times. Understanding this, the counsellor suggested that she set aside a time to play with her son every day. When Mariyam put it into practice, she discovered that all her son wanted from her was some attention. The counsellor then helped her and her husband explore different family planning options when her husband came visiting the household. Together they decided to adopt a family planning option once Mariyam had delivered. He also decided to stay on the island for a few months and work at his father’s carpentry in order to help his wife to look after the children post-delivery. The couple visited SHE clinic for counselling on contraceptives post delivery and Mariyam has been a client ever since.

Non-governmental organisation in Maldives establishes a family planning clinic
story

| 06 October 2022

Helping families bond together

Mariyam a 25-year-old woman, who lived in Addu Atoll in Maldives, was having a battle of wits with Ahmed, her young three year old. He threw temper tantrums and just couldn’t be disciplined. Thankfully, one day Mariyam attended a session on better parenting skills organised by Society of Health & Education (SHE). SHE was the first non-governmental organisation in Maldives to establish a family planning clinic where couples could get information, education and counselling to plan their families. It also provides psycho-social support and counselling to children and adults. Through various approaches such as play therapy, children as well as adults are helped to develop life skills and cope with the grief, anger, anguish and possible abuse in their life. During the session on parenting, Mariyam requested for help in dealing with Ahmed. Thereafter through extended telephonic counselling sessions; it was revealed that Mariyam was currently pregnant with her fourth child. Her husband worked away from home and visited occasionally during holidays. Her pregnancy, combined with childcare needs at home, was taking a toll on Mariyam, making her feel weak and irritable, even overwhelmed at times. Understanding this, the counsellor suggested that she set aside a time to play with her son every day. When Mariyam put it into practice, she discovered that all her son wanted from her was some attention. The counsellor then helped her and her husband explore different family planning options when her husband came visiting the household. Together they decided to adopt a family planning option once Mariyam had delivered. He also decided to stay on the island for a few months and work at his father’s carpentry in order to help his wife to look after the children post-delivery. The couple visited SHE clinic for counselling on contraceptives post delivery and Mariyam has been a client ever since.

Women’s collective pools money and resources to get a clinic in their area.
story

| 11 January 2017

Changing lives across generations

Indumati, her (now departed) mother-in-law and her three daughters-in-law represent three generations of women in Maharashtra, India who have benefitted from the services of Family Planning Association of India. All three generations have been a part of women’s collectives’ movement encouraging women to participate in the socio-economic life of the family and community. Becoming a member of the women’s collectives helped Indumati to step beyond the boundaries of her home and begin participating in the community life of the village. Be it cleanliness drives in the village or celebrating all festivals with equal fervour created spaces for the women to contribute to the social wellbeing of the village. The next stop was micro-savings for economic independence. When the women realised that the women of their and neighbouring villages don’t have any healthcare services, they approached Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) to start a clinic in their area. When FPAI agreed the women’s group pooled money and contributed towards the building of the clinic. With increased access to healthcare services came increased awareness. Most women’s group imparted training on SRHR to the collective members. Some collective members even began to stock the contraceptives provided by FPAI so that women could access them in privacy and confidentiality. Indumati has three sons and one daughter. Each of her three sons has two children each. Her daughters-in-law were able to get information and adopted family planning methods due to her involvement with the women’s collectives. The inter-generational impact of access to family planning services is clearly visible in her household.

Women’s collective pools money and resources to get a clinic in their area.
story

| 06 October 2022

Changing lives across generations

Indumati, her (now departed) mother-in-law and her three daughters-in-law represent three generations of women in Maharashtra, India who have benefitted from the services of Family Planning Association of India. All three generations have been a part of women’s collectives’ movement encouraging women to participate in the socio-economic life of the family and community. Becoming a member of the women’s collectives helped Indumati to step beyond the boundaries of her home and begin participating in the community life of the village. Be it cleanliness drives in the village or celebrating all festivals with equal fervour created spaces for the women to contribute to the social wellbeing of the village. The next stop was micro-savings for economic independence. When the women realised that the women of their and neighbouring villages don’t have any healthcare services, they approached Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) to start a clinic in their area. When FPAI agreed the women’s group pooled money and contributed towards the building of the clinic. With increased access to healthcare services came increased awareness. Most women’s group imparted training on SRHR to the collective members. Some collective members even began to stock the contraceptives provided by FPAI so that women could access them in privacy and confidentiality. Indumati has three sons and one daughter. Each of her three sons has two children each. Her daughters-in-law were able to get information and adopted family planning methods due to her involvement with the women’s collectives. The inter-generational impact of access to family planning services is clearly visible in her household.

story

| 05 October 2016

Battling stigma in the Kathmandu Valley

 “People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. ‘You’re not a good girl,  you’re not of good character’ they’d say. They called me many bad things.”  “But later on, after getting married, whenever I visited those families they came and said:  ‘you did a really good job. We realise that now and feel sorry for what we said before.”  Rita Chawal is recalling her time as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association of  Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation. Her experiences point to the crucial importance of family planning education and support in Nepal, a country still affected by severe maternal and infant mortality rates and poor access to contraception.  Poor government services, remote communities, a failing transport network and strict patriarchal structures can make access to family planning and health services a  challenge for many people across the country. Services like FPAN’s are vital to reach as many people as possible. Rita is now 32 years old and herself a client of FPAN. She lives with her husband and six-year-old son in Bhaktapur, an ancient temple city, 15 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu. Before getting married, she spent 10 years working as a family planning youth volunteer for FPAN, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception. Her time at the organisation set her in good stead for married life: after marrying she approached FPAN right away to get family planning support, antenatal classes, and, later on, contraception. “I had all this knowledge, so I decided to come and take the services,” she says. “I found that the services here were very good.” But Rita is far from the norm. She shudders when she recalls the abuse she received from neighbours and her community when she worked distributing contraception. Stigma still surrounds contraception in many places: for an unmarried young woman like Rita to be distributing condoms was seen as immoral by many, particularly older, people, even in an urban setting like Bhaktapur. Stigma can be even more extreme in rural areas. Across Nepal, rumours about the side effects of different contraceptive devices are also a problem. Attitudes are slowly changing. Rita says people now come to her whenever they have a family planning problem. “I have become a role model for the community,” she says. She herself is now using the contraceptive implant, a decision she arrived at after discussing different options with FPAN volunteers. She has tried different methods. After her son’s birth, she began using the contraceptive injection. “After the injection, I shifted to oral pills for six months, but that didn’t suit me,” she says. “It gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy. So I had a consultation with FPAN and they advised me to use the implant. I use it now and feel really good and safe. It’s been five years now.” This kind of advice and support can transform the lives of entire families in Nepal. Reductions in maternal and infant mortality, sexual health, female empowerment and dignity, and access to safe abortion are just a few of the life-changing benefits that organisations like FPAN can bring.

story

| 06 October 2022

Battling stigma in the Kathmandu Valley

 “People used to shout at me when I was distributing condoms. ‘You’re not a good girl,  you’re not of good character’ they’d say. They called me many bad things.”  “But later on, after getting married, whenever I visited those families they came and said:  ‘you did a really good job. We realise that now and feel sorry for what we said before.”  Rita Chawal is recalling her time as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association of  Nepal (FPAN), Nepal’s largest family planning organisation. Her experiences point to the crucial importance of family planning education and support in Nepal, a country still affected by severe maternal and infant mortality rates and poor access to contraception.  Poor government services, remote communities, a failing transport network and strict patriarchal structures can make access to family planning and health services a  challenge for many people across the country. Services like FPAN’s are vital to reach as many people as possible. Rita is now 32 years old and herself a client of FPAN. She lives with her husband and six-year-old son in Bhaktapur, an ancient temple city, 15 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu. Before getting married, she spent 10 years working as a family planning youth volunteer for FPAN, running classes on sexual health, safe abortion and contraception. Her time at the organisation set her in good stead for married life: after marrying she approached FPAN right away to get family planning support, antenatal classes, and, later on, contraception. “I had all this knowledge, so I decided to come and take the services,” she says. “I found that the services here were very good.” But Rita is far from the norm. She shudders when she recalls the abuse she received from neighbours and her community when she worked distributing contraception. Stigma still surrounds contraception in many places: for an unmarried young woman like Rita to be distributing condoms was seen as immoral by many, particularly older, people, even in an urban setting like Bhaktapur. Stigma can be even more extreme in rural areas. Across Nepal, rumours about the side effects of different contraceptive devices are also a problem. Attitudes are slowly changing. Rita says people now come to her whenever they have a family planning problem. “I have become a role model for the community,” she says. She herself is now using the contraceptive implant, a decision she arrived at after discussing different options with FPAN volunteers. She has tried different methods. After her son’s birth, she began using the contraceptive injection. “After the injection, I shifted to oral pills for six months, but that didn’t suit me,” she says. “It gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy. So I had a consultation with FPAN and they advised me to use the implant. I use it now and feel really good and safe. It’s been five years now.” This kind of advice and support can transform the lives of entire families in Nepal. Reductions in maternal and infant mortality, sexual health, female empowerment and dignity, and access to safe abortion are just a few of the life-changing benefits that organisations like FPAN can bring.