CEP facilitators communicate with participants about the negative health consequences of giving birth in consecutive years, such as the high possibility of the baby being born underweight due to the mother’s nutrient stores not being able to fully replenish. Participants are then introduced to different methods for spacing births, like the use of contraception.

Given the sensitive nature of these topics, our holistic CEP also focuses on problem solving and how to facilitate communication within the household and community. This allows CEP participants to address birth spacing and methods for planning in a positive and inclusive way with their partners. Mariama Diop from Kantora Diasse, Senegal is an example of a participant who utilized this approach. After learning about birth spacing through the Kobi II lessons, Mariama was interested in taking contraceptive injections. She asked Tostan facilitator Ramatoulaye Sene to assist her in introducing the idea to her husband, and although he did not have an immediate response, an open dialogue was established. Over time he began to voice his opinion, especially his concern for Mariama’s health, and was even reminding her to attend her appointments. By utilizing what she had learned in the CEP, Mariama provided an example for other women in her community to follow, and now more than 80 women in the community go to the clinic for contraceptive injections.

“Before we were nearsighted. Nearsightedness of the eyes is bad, but nearsightedness of the heart is worse. We have now adopted practices that we know will lead to better health for women and children in the community and have ended practices that don’t. In the past, we felt we could never question traditional beliefs and didn’t have the right information and social support to change.”

Man from Kolma Peulh, Senegal