Men’s participation is crucial to the success of family planning programs as it’s associated with better outcomes in reproductive health such as contraceptive acceptance, continuation, as well as safer sexual behaviors.
Men are also recognized to be responsible for the large proportion of ill reproductive health suffered by their female partners.
Men’s knowledge, attitude, and practice of modern contraceptive methods would determine the level of spousal communication about family planning decision making.
However, limited choice and access to methods, attitudes of men towards family planning, perceived fear of side-effects, poor quality of available services, cultural or religious oppositions and gender-based barriers are some of the reasons for low utilization of family planning.
However, if Nigeria is to achieve increase in the Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate, (MCPR) to 27 percent by 2020, there is need to seek ways to promote male participation in family planning.
Recently, during an advocacy activity to Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State, organized by Family Planning Media Advocacy Working Group, FPMAWG, in collaboration with Public Health Sustainability Advocacy Initiative, PHSAI, revealed the low support of men in women’s access to modern contraceptive methods.
In an interview with Evangelist Ezekiel Olarewanju Ogunyemi, Community Development Council, CDC, member of Olorunola, Ibereko community, Badagry said men’s refusal to participate in matters concerning family planning serves as a barrier to accessing any method.
According to him, “whenever we jointly have a programme that encompass all the women, we discuss these issues but the problem is that, some of our women prefer to go alone without their husbands.
“Just recently, I settled a matrimonial issue between a couple, that is why I have taken interest in that programme “Sheri Gbo”, a family planning program on Radio Lagos to help influence more people in modern contraception usage as well as give more publicity to it. I use “Sheri Gbo” to settle the issues related to family planning. I urge the organisers to make the program more interesting.”
Mr Ogunyemi stated that he supports family planning, “I have two children and I don’t want more than that, because I want to take good care of them.”
He however added that, couples should take communication seriously as it is crucial, stressing that, in a situation where the couple desire different number of children, all they need to do is talk it over and come to a conclusion.
Also speaking, the Community Development Association, CDA, leader for Ejo Meji, Badagry, Mrs Toviho Caroline Kofoworola, who is also on a contraception revealed that some women access family planning without their husband’s consent due to their lack of support.
She said, not all men like family planning especially, a method that is visible as it can be easily detectable.
Kofoworola explained that, ” a woman that is wise should go to the centre for family planning tablet, coil or injection. The coil is like a rope, but if the husband accepts it, there is no cause for alarm.”
She advised that women whose husband refuses them the use of modern family planning method, “knows what she is facing; she knows she is in trouble if she continues to give birth every year. If she wants to save her life and don’t want to die at a young age, she may secretly go to a center and tell the family planning officers in charge and ask for a method that won’t be noticeable by her husband. The one that her husband will not detect.
“We have injectables, tablets because husbands who doesn`t want their wives to use any method, will always search their wives bags. When they see anything like tablets, they will ask which tablet is this one.”
She said issues like these, have been settled several times, adding that some men are educated yet lack understanding of these issues.
During community outreaches, she said sensitization, health education is given buttressing the need for the men to support their wives to access family planning.
For the Chairman, Communuty Development Council, Badagry LGA, Elder Kuponu Ebenezer advised couple of having a sizeable family as it helps for proper planning and economic growth.
He said, “when I got married, my wife told me, she doesn’t want to have more than three children and that her mother had seven, training them was an issue. We agreed even though I wanted two children. We discussed it and after the third one, she went for family planning. I am at peace now. Family planning is helping me.”
He advised women to discuss first with their husbands before using any family planning method but if such a husband is not in support, the woman should go alone to save her life.
He however said the local government has agreed to support family planning a d increase awareness in the community.
The Family planning Manager, Badagry LGA, Mrs. Salami Sidikat Iyabo, said prior to this time, there wasn’t much husband support for their wives until the meeting with the CDAs, the Iyalojas and the Baale’s in the LGA.
She said, “in one of the forum I was invited, I took the opportunity to talk about family planning because I learnt that most men don’t support their wives.
“After I explained the importance of family planning and why men should support their wives to the community members and everyone, the chief then promised me that from that time, he will try and counsel the young men and their wives because they thought using modern contraception would prevent their wives from getting pregnant.”
To encourage people to use family planning, Sidikat said women who are currently on any modern contraception, and also had children in between the family planning, were brought to give words of encouragement at the forum.
She added that though there are some men who still insist their wife should not go for any method, stressed that, it poses a barrier to achieving the contraceptive prevalence objective of the State and exposes women to danger.