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Empowering Futures: The Role of Social Behavior Change Communication in Family Planning

In October 2023, FP2030 organized the Accelerating Access to Postpartum and Post-Abortion Family Planning Workshop in Nepal. Participants shared experiences with others on PPFP/PAFP program interventions including monitoring and evaluation efforts, and current progress and gaps in program implementation. The conference provided a rich avenue for networking and collaborative opportunities with FP/RH professionals in Asia. Attendee, Ms. Saman Rai, the Director General of Population Welfare Department, Punjab, who is a high-level advocate of social behavioral change communication and believes “infotainment” – a combination of educational elements with entertainment has the power to reach a large segment of the population in Pakistan.” shares her take on SBCC.

“To be or not to be, that is the question.” These timeless words, spoken by Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s iconic play, encapsulate a profound contemplation on the nature of existence and the complexities of decision-making. In the realm of literature, these words have resonated through the centuries, but beyond the stage, they find relevance in the corridors of our own lives, echoing the perpetual choices we face.As we navigate the complexities of contemporary existence, one such overarching question stands prominently before us: to be architects of change, or to be passive spectators in the face of pressing issues? The question, reframed in this context, becomes: to be active participants in family planning and reproductive health initiatives, or to remain passive recipients of demographic shifts?

A large group of individuals gathered around a female speaker
Changing mindsets, changing lives: Rural outreach for social transformation.

Understanding Social Behavior Change Communication

The resonance of Shakespeare’s words with our modern deliberations is unmistakable. The choices we make regarding family planning not only reverberate through our personal lives but reverberate on the grand stage of societal development.

As we embark on this exploration, let us delve into the depths of family planning, examining the intricacies of its impact on human capital, societal well-being, and the sustainable development of nations. The choice, as Hamlet poetically contemplates, lies before us – to be architects of our familial and societal destinies or to resign ourselves to the currents of demographic fate.

Key Components of SBCC in Family Planning

The promotion of family planning requires innovative communication strategies that are culturally sensitive, accessible, and tailored to the diverse needs of the population. Some innovative communication strategies that could be implemented in the public sector on family planning include developing a user-friendly mobile application that provides information on various family planning methods, nearby health facilities, and personalized reproductive health tracking. Implementing interactive chatbots on government websites and social media platforms could also provide instant responses to family planning queries. Creating podcasts and webinars featuring healthcare professionals, religious leaders, and influencers discussing the importance of family planning can also address cultural and religious concerns in an open and informed manner. Other innovative communication strategies include developing short and impactful public service announcements (PSAs) in regional languages, community-based social media campaigns, street theater and art installations, partnership with religious leaders, and youth-centric social media challenges, among others. 

By embracing these innovative communication strategies, the public sector in Pakistan can effectively reach diverse audiences, overcome cultural barriers, and promote informed decision-making regarding family planning. In addition to communication strategies, promoting family planning and welfare development as part of a broader strategy for inclusive and sustainable economic growth, requires a multifaceted approach.

Individuals gathered in discussion
From awareness to action: Mobilizing rural communities for positive change.

Interactive workshops in educational institutions to provide comprehensive information on reproductive health and family planning, and collaboration with employers to integrate family planning information into workplace wellness programs, could also be implemented. QR Code campaigns on contraceptive packaging, community health ambassadors, and other innovative communication strategies could also be implemented. By embracing these innovative communication strategies and customizing them to the unique needs and preferences of the population could effectively reach diverse audiences, overcome cultural barriers, and promote informed decision-making regarding family planning.

Promoting family planning and welfare development as part of a broader strategy for inclusive and sustainable economic growth, requires a multifaceted approach. Policy innovation strategies specifically tailored to address family planning and welfare development in the context of economic growth could include integrating family planning services into existing healthcare infrastructure to ensure accessibility. This includes establishing family planning clinics within health facilities and promoting comprehensive reproductive health services. Implementing mobile health (mHealth) initiatives to reach remote areas and provide information on family planning could also be beneficial. 

Developing community-based awareness programs that educate individuals and communities about the benefits of family planning could also be implemented. Utilizing local influencers, community leaders, and religious scholars to disseminate information and address cultural sensitivities surrounding family planning can be effective. Foster public-private partnerships to enhance the delivery of family planning services, and encourage private healthcare providers to collaborate with government initiatives, ensuring a wider reach and diverse service options for individuals. Introduce incentives for healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, and community health workers, to actively promote and provide voluntary family planning services. This can include recognition programs, and professional development opportunities. 

Other policy innovation strategies include designing and implementing family planning initiatives specifically targeting the youth, developing educational programs in schools and colleges, providing information on reproductive health and family planning, and using innovative communication channels, such as social media and peer education, to engage the younger population. Encouraging employers to incorporate family planning support into workplace wellness programs, strengthening maternal and child health initiatives to improve overall family well-being, and exploring innovative financing models to fund family planning initiatives could also be implemented. 

Leveraging telemedicine to provide remote access to reproductive health consultations and family planning services, developing and implementing programs that encourage male involvement in family planning decisions, and integrating family planning into crisis response and resilience initiatives are other policy innovation strategies that could be implemented. Implementing robust data collection and analysis systems to monitor the effectiveness of family planning programs, providing cultural competency training for healthcare providers to ensure respectful and understanding interactions with diverse communities, advocating for legal reforms that promote gender equality and women’s rights, and collaborating with civil society organizations to amplify the reach of family planning programs are other critical policy innovation strategies that could be implemented.


By addressing the unique cultural, social, and economic factors in the region, these policy innovation strategies aim to create an environment where individuals and families can make informed choices about their reproductive health while contributing to the overall well-being of the community.

A group of individuals gathered around a person speaking with a poster behind them.
Empowering communities, enriching lives: Rural development in action.

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Saman Rai

Director General, Population Welfare Department Government of Punjab, Pakistan

Population management is a multifaceted endeavor that demands a profound shift in both mindset and cultural norms. In Punjab, where the tradition of large families is deeply ingrained in the socio-cultural fabric, addressing this issue requires significant effort from policymakers. As the head of the Family Planning Department, Saman Rai seizes the opportunity to translate insights into impactful campaigns, messages, and creative content, persistently advocating until these concepts become ingrained in people's consciousness. With a Graduate Diploma in Public Administration and a Master's degree in Public Policy, specializing in Social Policy from the Australian National University, Saman Rai is dedicated to fostering the social capital necessary for societal transformation. Coming from a background in public sector communication, culture, museums, and arts councils, Saman finds Social Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) particularly compelling, given its crucial role in slowing down population growth in Punjab and Pakistan. Saman recognizes the power of persuasion and creativity facilitated by technology, witnessing a quiet revolution unfold with the integration of SBCC strategies. Utilizing infotainment—a blend of information and entertainment—Saman engages audiences across various mediums, from television and radio to internet and mobile platforms. By leveraging infotainment, the Population Welfare Department's SBCC initiatives effectively reach a youthful demographic, tapping into a wide array of applications and social and digital media platforms. Saman firmly believes that, with continued efforts, the principles of family planning will be widely embraced and implemented by the populace in the years to come.