A Joint Decision

toddler in woman's arm

Sarala*, a young Nepalese woman, did not want to have another child so quickly, but she could never talk about sex with her husband. She wanted to make decisions about spacing the birth of their children, jointly. He, however, assumed that birth spacing was entirely a women’s responsibility. Sarala felt helpless - not only was she restricted from making choices regarding her sexual and reproductive health but she also faced violence. Her husband often abused her physically and verbally.

Male involvement programs, targeting men as beneficiaries of sexual and reproductive health and as supportive partners, have helped address issues of fertility rates, GBV and contraceptive prevalence, choice and access. Sarala's husband Hari* is one of the active participants in his local male involvement program and one of its most enthusiastic supporters.

A lot of men like Hari now visit the clinic for sexual and reproductive health services. The program has raised men’s awareness about sexual and reproductive health matters – helping to prevent HIV and other STIs. Couples in the community are more likely to avoid unwanted pregnancy and prevent STI transmission. And Sarala has decided, jointly with Hari, to use long term family planning methods.

Hari has been involved in group discussions – both with his wife and in all-male groups, and this has helped Sarala raise sensitive subjects at home. The male involvement programs have also resulted in other benefits including raising the issue of gender equity and an improvement in the community’s general health.

After counseling services Hari has overcome some of the ingrained cultural beliefs about masculinity that encouraged risky behavior in men. He now respects Sarala’s choices and realizes that sexual and reproductive health is a matter for both of them.