20 Essential Resources on Social Norms and Family Planning

By Ruwaida Salem and Anne Kott

“When reviewing information to determine the direction to take in family planning and reproductive health programming, there is so much information available from different sources. How to synthesize that information and use it for your own purposes? It becomes so much that you run into cognitive overload [not knowing what information to engage with and how to apply it].”

“There are too many players in family planning. That brings cognitive overload in terms of which methodologies to use. It also leads to decision fatigue [when less accurate decisions are made after having to make many decisions] because you need to constantly make a decision on which one to use and which not to use and why.”

Do these quotes sound familiar to you?

We hear sentiments like those above expressed over and over by our colleagues in FP/RH—program managers, technical advisors, and others—who are participating in Knowledge SUCCESS co-creation workshops, where we’re reimagining the ways FP/RH professionals access and use evidence and best practices to optimize FP/RH programs. Similar comments also surfaced in formative research led by our partner, the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, where they identified that many FP/RH program managers feel they “have to contend with FP/RH information sources being scattered and not all in one place.”

What people are saying is not that they simply want every resource pulled together in one place, but that they want help sorting through it all.

When confronted with too many choices, most people resort to either going with the default choice or putting off a decision altogether. In the context of FP/RH programs, this means that high-quality evidence, experience, and best practices often are not being put to use—simply because we are overloaded with information that we feel unable to process on our own.

If this is something you can relate to, then our new 20 Essential Resources series is what you’ve been looking for.

In partnership with other FP/RH experts from a wide range of organizations, our team will be pulling together 20 essential resources on important FP/RH programmatic topics into curated collections—selecting the resources that we use to inform our own programming. Each collection will provide:

  • An easily scanned, responsive “hub” that curates all 20 resources on one page—no extra work to find what you’re looking for.
  • A variety of formats, such as reports, videos, infographics, and journal articles, to appeal to different learning styles.
  • An explanation of why each resource is essential, to help you decide if it’s something that’s relevant and timely for your own work.
There are so many high-quality, well-written resources on family planning and reproductive health, and that’s the point. In each collection, we do our best to select 20 resources that, as a collection, will have the information you’re looking for.

Launching today: 20 Essential Resources in Social Norms and Family Planning

Our inaugural “20 Essential Resources” collection focuses on social norms and family planning. We were thrilled to curate this collection with Passages, a five-year (2015-2020) USAID-funded project led by the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University that aims to address a broad range of social norms, at scale, to achieve sustained improvements in family planning and reproductive health.

Click here to explore the 20 Essential Resources on Social Norms and Family Planning.

Social norms are the unwritten rules of behavior shared by members of a group. Social norms related to family planning behaviors—including those that discourage couples from discussing family planning, pressure young couples to prove their fertility soon after marriage, or frown on contraceptive use altogether—have a clear impact on health and well-being. Norms-shifting interventions have the potential to shift these harmful norms into ones that support positive family planning outcomes.

The resources in this collection span from basic briefs, which introduce how and why social norms matter, to detailed guides that will show you how to re-create norms-shifting interventions that are proven to lead to significant improvements in attitudes and behaviors.

Use our social media toolkit to promote 20 Essential Resources on Social Norms and Family Planning.

Next in the series: 20 Essential Resources for Francophone FP/RH Programs

Up next in the series will be 20 Ressources de PF / SR pour les Programmes Francophones—essential resources for  Francophone family planning and reproductive health programs.

Curated by Knowledge SUCCESS, Family Planning 2020, and others, this collection will pull together the most-recommended FP/RH program resources that are available in French. 

Is there a particular FP/RH topic you’d like us to cover in the 20 Essentials series? Would you like to partner with us on an upcoming edition? Let us know!

Anne Kott

Anne Kott

Anne Kott is the communications team lead for Knowledge SUCCESS. Previously, she served as communications director for the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project, communications lead for Family Planning Voices, and started her career as a strategic communications consultant for Fortune 500 companies. She earned her MSPH in health communication and health education from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and bachelor of arts in Anthropology from Bucknell University.

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