The ‘Best Husband’ contest: Encouraging men to participate in maternal and child health

| September 14, 2020

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Thirty candidates wanted to participate in the Best Husband Contest, hosted in Koudougou, a community in the Centre West Region of Burkina Faso. In order to win this symbolic title, the contestants were required to respond to questions about how a man can support his wife or partner with maternal and newborn health.

The Best Husband contest was the brainchild of staff at Farm Radio International, and intended as a fun activity to raise awareness about the role of men in maternal, newborn, and child health. To participate, contestants registered over the radio. A selection panel visited contestants’ families to question them before choosing the final candidates. The final round of the contest was held in public in the form of a “jeu public” or “public game.”

This radio format is unique to Burkina Faso. Taking place as a community event, the entire population of an area gathers together to discuss an important topic. (Note: This activity took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and would need some modifications to take place today.)

During a public game, questions are posed to the participants in order to determine the winner of the game. While public games are live events, they can be broadcast over the airwaves to reach an even wider audience. The Best Husband contest was broadcast on Radio Palabre in Koudougou, a Farm Radio partner.

Kabore Pidi Arouna is a farmer and bike repair person in Doulou, a village located 12 km from Koudougou. He is a husband and father to nine children—and was among the contestants.

When the selection panel visited his community and household, his wife described her husband’s good habits. His neighbours testified to the same.

The day of the finale was rainy and Mr. Arouna was one of the three finalists. He responded well to the questions during the finale quiz. As the final challenge, he had to write a song to raise awareness about maternal health, which he sang during the live broadcast.

In the end, he was the winner.

Happy with the result, he says, “I decided to participate in the Best Husband Contest to become informed and to learn more about the health of mothers and children.”

Mr. Arouna is known in Doulou as a community leader. “I was interested in questions about the health of mothers and children well before the contest,” he says. “I have the conviction that if everyone in the world had good information, we would know a better, more peaceful social climate in our community.”

He says the Best Husband Contest is a good idea because it allows contestants and listeners to evaluate their knowledge of the topic—and those who don’t value the health of mothers and infants might begin to change their minds.

When Mr. Arouna returned to Doulou with the title of “Best Husband”—and the bicycle he won as the top prize—he was front page news. Youth now ask him questions so that they can learn from him. He sees one of his duties as a community leader as educating both his peers and youths on becoming better involved in the health of mothers, newborns, and children. It’s a noble responsibility, he says.

Mr. Arouna now meets regularly with 12 youth of different genders and backgrounds to talk about maternal and infant health. The youth are more concerned than before, especially thanks to the radio, an essential tool for creating awareness at scale, according to Mr. Harouna.

He suggested that the Best Husband Contest should be organized in all villages in order to draw the attention of the whole population to maternal, newborn, and child health.

This story was originally published on the Farm Radio International websites and describes our work as part of the Programme d’amélioration de la santé des mères et des enfants – Phase 2 (PASME2), implemented by WUSC (World University Service of Canada) with funding from Global Affairs Canada. These activities took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the work of Farm Radio International, go to: