The following story is part of a series from The Challenge Initiative in India called “Urban Tales,” occasional real-life stories of women and girls in India benefiting from TCI’s work supporting local governments to implement high-impact family planning and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) interventions.
Bringing men into the conversation around family planning and contraception has always been challenging in India. However, with the correct information and awareness, dedicated staff like Rina Devi in Bokaro, Jharkhand, serve as an example that male engagement is possible.
Rina was recently recognized as one of the best community health workers for mobilizing four non-surgical vasectomy (NSV) clients during the country’s NSV fortnight in November 2022.
However, her journey as an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) was not easy, as she recalls that she came across several men who were reluctant to talk to her in general, let alone about family planning. Faced with this, Rina sought the support of her husband to visit the households and talk to men.
Rina also owes her success to three simple ground rules:
- During any visit to the community, talk about the importance of family planning and all family planning methods
- Talk to couples together and not just the women
- Identify couples in need of family planning by keeping her ASHA diary up to date.
She learned these techniques from her auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) mentor and the TCI team in India. Rina said both have always supported her, be it for one-on-one counseling, or conducting interventions where men gather, such as ‘Chauraha’ meetings (meaning ‘crossroads’ in English) for men seeking odd jobs as laborers.
For Rina, family planning means mutually deciding as a couple together on how to on achieve their dreams, including whether to have and when to have children. She believes a small well-planned family is a happy family. Rina and her fellow ASHAs working in Azad Nagar, Bokaro, are an inspiration for everyone in their communities.