It takes a village: Engaging men, women & youth in ‘women’s issues’ (FRI blog)

January 05, 2019
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It takes a village to raise a child.” This proverb has many important meanings, but one related truth is that maternal, newborn, and children’s health shouldn’t be only a woman’s issue; it should be a priority for the whole family.

Farm Radio International is working hard in Burkina Faso to change attitudes towards maternal and child health, encouraging men to see their important role in the health and happiness of their family.

This is a key theme in a mini-drama aired in three local languages: Goulmantchéma, Mooré, and Lyélé. In this drama, male characters are used to convey key messages and act as role models, hopefully changing the attitudes of Burkinabè men and other important influences in society such as mothers-in-law.

The drama is part of a larger effort to address the quality of health services and the limited use of these services in Burkina Faso. In 2015, the infant and child mortality rate in the country was 81.6 per 1,000 live births and the maternal mortality rate was 330 per 100,000 live births.

World University Service of Canada and the University of Laval have been working to change these numbers, thanks to the support of Global Affairs Canada. They have been training staff at health clinics, as well as community-based health workers.

But a key element of this work is increasing awareness of these services and increasing the number of people accessing them. Only one-third of pregnant Burkinabè women visit a health clinic for the recommended four consultations, which increases their risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

FRI has been working with Savane FM-Gourcy, Radio Palabre in Koudougou, and Radio Djawampo in Bogandé since September 2017 to talk about maternal, newborn, and child health. Our participatory radio programs have engaged men at every stage, so that the radio programs can challenge preconceived notions about maternal and child health and spark a discussion within the communities who tune in.

These programs—airing in the East, North, and Center-West regions—are popular. Last year, the programs heard from 6,000 listeners who called or texted in.

So far, our project has engaged more than 1,000 men, women, and youth in 29 listening groups, and the radio programs have been broadcast to nearly one million people living in the North, East, and Centre-West regions.

This story was originally published in July 2018 on the Farm Radio International blog.