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Engaging Young Men in Family Planning Decisions

FSG partners with YLabs and VOTO Mobile on a research effort that brings young men into the family planning conversation.

Family planning conversations in the global health field historically have revolved around women and girls. Yet, the reality is that inequalities in power and privilege among men and women often give men greater decision-making power in relationships and limit women’s ability to control family planning practices.

There is limited research that explores the factors that shape young men’s behaviors, decision-making within relationships, or the role of peer networks, technology, and gender norms in driving demand for and use of family planning services.

In 2016, FSG began a partnership with YLabs and VOTO Mobile on Men Stand Up, a research effort to bridge this knowledge gap. Men Stand Up, which received a Grand Challenges Explorations grant in 2016, aims to uncover men’s perspectives on gender, fatherhood and family planning, and masculinity and vulnerability, including gender-based violence, sexuality, and aspirations for the future. The project combines qualitative and quantitative public health research and a human-centered design process to identify important drivers of behavior and to engage young men in developing health interventions.

Men Stand Up is an ongoing effort. To date, YLabs, FSG, and VOTO Mobile have:

  • Conducted qualitative research with approximately 100 young men, aged 15 to 24 years, in Uttar Pradesh, India, and Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya, using participatory, human-centered design research activities to gather young men’s perspectives and ideas.
  • Launched mobile-powered surveys with 800 young men in India, Kenya, Mali, and Nigeria. The surveys, informed by prior qualitative research and field tested prior to deployment, used interactive voice response (IVR) to explore current use of contraception, sexual behavior, and decision-making about contraception.

Over the next year, Men Stand Up will continue this research and develop design briefs for the field based on user insights. We hope these findings will help generate future directions for programming with young men that targets sexual and reproductive health and rights, ultimately creating better health outcomes for everyone. 

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About YLabs
YLabs works with governments and local organizations to design, evaluate and scale programs designed with young people that address the key health, economic and social challenges facing today's youth. Their team of physicians, designers, economists, public health professionals and educators bring a unique mix of youth-centered design, impact evaluation, adolescent medicine and implementation know-how to the global problems facing youth.