Male Social Mobilizers and their Importance
My name is Kamran, and I was born and raised in Dhok Hassu. I have been running my small Kiryani store (small corner store) for the past ten years. Being single, I had very little knowledge of, or interest in, the topic of family planning. However, recently, one of my close friends Zain started work as a male social mobilizer for the “Noor Aapis” program run by AHKRC and funded by PPIF in our community, and his work peaked my interest. In his day-to-day tasks, Zain works in engaging the male members of our neighborhood in the discussion of family planning. He provided me some counseling even though I am unmarried, saying the information would be useful for me when I did get married.
Through our discussions, I learned a lot about the hardships women have to go through in our community. Often, women are not given the choice to use any contraceptives to control or limit their family sizes, and as a result have to face many health issues. I knew son preference was a prevalent problem in our society, and women often got pregnant multiple times in the hopes of having a son, but learning about the health risks involved, I came to realize that men should not be the sole family planning decision-making. Women need to be involved in the discussion too, since they are the ones actually giving birth. When I asked Zain about this problem, he informed me of the female “Noor Aapis” who are trying to involve the women in the decision-making process as well by educating them on their choices and rights. This was heartening to hear.
My fiancé was also recently visited by a Noor Aapi at her house to counsel her on family planning. She only told me about the visit when I asked her whether she knew about the Noor Aapi project, having been reluctant to talk about it because she feared I might not like the subject matter. Her fears might have been based in reality a few months ago, but after all the knowledge I had gained, I was keen to start a discussion on family planning with her. Therefore, we have recently been communicating more with each other about our expectations from married life, and the sort of family we want to have once we get married.
“You should just relax and focus on your studies,” I told her just the other day, “even though we are getting married soon, we will wait before having any children. You can look into career options, and I can save up more money for our family.”
Over time, I have become more cognizant of the problems people have to deal with every day. Having only a middle school education, I was not very educated in these issues, but I have learned a lot from my friend Zain. This program is addressing a major problem in our community that I was not aware even existed. I feel more prepared for marriage now, and understand the need for proper family planning for a healthy family life.