The Context Matters project seeks to understand barriers and facilitators to the use of voluntary family planning (FP) among married and unmarried youth (ages 15-24) in Dosso and Tahoua, Niger. Early marriage and social norms support large families but limit FP access and contribute to one of the world’s highest fertility rates (6.8 children/woman). Niger’s Ministry of Health’s FP Action Plan aims to increase the modern contraceptive prevalence rate from 21.8% in 2021 to 29.3% in 2025. It recognizes that targets can’t be met without addressing youth and allocates 15% of resources to youth-focused activities with priority given to scalable “high-impact strategies” at the community level. Using evidence that positive FP practices and outcomes can be influenced by better understanding localized social norms (Kane et al., 2016), Context Matters will help meet Niger’s need for approaches to increase youth FP.
The project’s Social Norms Study (SNS) will answer the following: What attitudes and perceptions influence FP acceptance among youth? How can faith, religion, and culture be harnessed to promote positive FP and reproductive health (RH) behaviors? How can key influencers such as family, healthcare providers, religious and traditional leaders, and others support FP? The SNS will use participatory action research to generate findings used to develop culturally relevant and faith-responsive Social and Behavior Change activities and contribute to local and national policy discussions.
Context Matters intends to 1) provide new data on FP social norms in Niger; 2) develop SBC activities to increase youth agency to plan their ideal family size; 3) increase demand for FP services and commodities; and 4) influence local, regional, and national FP policy. Long term, the project may contribute to increased health and well-being among the target population.