Thursday, May 6, 2010

Men, women, mobile phones and reproductive health...

by Karen Coppock

Yesterday I moderated a fascinating live chat on Gender, Phones and Reproductive Health - transcripts for the session are now available under the Discussion Boards link in the Conference Hall on the eConference website. I encourage you to review the transcripts and continue the conversation on the Discussion Board.

More than three dozen participants - from across the world - contributed to a very lively and informative discussion on using mobile phones in reproductive health and differences in targeting men and women. Organizations are taking very different approaches to gender differences - participants in the chat noted the following examples:
  • "In a pilot family planning project called Saathiya, in India we established a helpline with two separate phone lines for men and women served by same-gender operators. This approach proved to be very effective for men to be very comfortable asking wide range of questions on sexual health and FP"
  • "the audience is not necessarily just the target women, but often many other influential people in the community...." This approach was taken in Rwanda - "an SMS in Kinyarwandan in 2006 [was sent] to all registered mobile phone users to announce the child health campaign with bed nets, immunization, and deworming. It went out 2-3 days before the campaign"
  • "In using mobile phones, what is the role of women versus the role of community health workers. In
    a rural Nigerian setting, we need CHW to be intermediaries...process and interprete into local language, do reports etc"...CHWs [community health workers] in Nigeria are often, in my experience, the entry point into the household, past husbands, and can reach the wives. I agree with Ego in the importance in that setting to look at the relationship between the two."
Many more topics and issues were raised in the chat, but one theme was consistent throughout the discussion....sustainability and scale has not yet been achieved, but "People are really thirsty for information!" so we need to figure out the most effective method of quenching this thirst and mobile phones could be a very viable solution.

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