Family Planning through the Lens of Men

Family planning (FP) is urgently needed in Pakistan but progress remains slow. In its 2002 Population Policy, the country pledged to reduce its total fertility rate to 2.2 by 2020; at the London Summit in 2012, it further committed to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) to 55 percent by the same year. Despite some important achievements, Pakistan’s current CPR is only 35 percent, the total fertility rate is 3.8, and an alarming 20 percent of married couples of reproductive age express an unmet need for FP (NIPS and Measure DHS 2013).

Thus far, FP programming in the country has largely been directed at women, their husbands regarded, at best, as interested bystanders, and at worst, as grudging gatekeeepers impeding women’s use of contraception. This has been mainly due to men’s own perceptions of FP as women’s business and their culturally-driven unease with the idea of family planning. However, recent research indicates that men’s attitudes toward FP are changing and they are eager to be involved.

In several of its recent studies, the Population Council has focused on men’s perspectives of FP in order to support an evidence-based agenda that brings men into mainstream FP programming. This paper synthesizes the data from these studies, as well as from other research,1 on Pakistani men’s readiness to be more involved in FP, the challenges they face in FP adoption and continuation, and the preparedness of the health sector to respond to their needs.