By Rens Saat, Programme Officer @Simavi
Men in the Gushegu region of North-Eastern Ghana have difficulties accepting women in their communities who use contraceptives, as these commodities are believed to lead the women into promiscuous behavior.
The common understanding among the men is that after the women start using contraceptives, they will go around and start flirting and engaging in sexual activity with men, consequently contracting Sexual Transmitted Infections (STI’s). It is believed that they will spread these diseases within their communities, leading to widespread infection. As such, it is assumed that access to family planning commodities will expose women to promiscuity, causing an enhanced risk to the community’s health.
Misconceptions in the field
During field visits with Simavi’s partners of HFFG and NORSAAC, we have seen that these views are common in the more rural parts of Northern Ghana. However, proof can be found that the spread of STI’s and unwanted pregnancies in rural communities are on the rise. This actually seems more likely to be the result of ignorance on the risks involved in not using contraceptives, rather than the actual threat of the so-called promiscuous behavior of women as a consequence of utilizing contraceptives.
To tackle the unawareness on risks in having unprotected sex as well as to alter the prejudice against women’s use of contraceptives (which are so persistently prevalent in rural communities), Simavi is co-operating with local Ghanaian NGO’s such as NORSAAC, HFFG, Savannah Signatures and PHS-N to organize programs and activities in which community members are made aware of their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).
Interventions include outreach activities where a health professional in local communities publicly explains the purpose and advantages of the use of contraceptives, 1-on-1 information provision to youth by trained peer educators, and implementing sex education into school curricula. Simavi supports a wide range of activities which are strategically executed and coordinated by the local NGO’s in order to bring about behavioral change, as the ability to make healthy and conscious decisions about one’s sexuality will ultimately result in improved public health in rural communities.
Find out more about our SRHR programs