Fatma Osman is a 22-year-old who is studying French at Aswan University in Egypt. She grew up in Aswan with her parents and a younger sister. When she was a child, Fatma noticed that her family was different from those of her friends who had many siblings. Their parents were more stressed financially and emotionally than Fatma’s parents.
Because she benefited from her family’s small size, today Fatma advocates family planning with her peers. She does this in part through community theater productions that convey the importance of family planning, as well as the dangers of early marriage and female genital mutilation.
Recently, Fatma was in a series of plays that were part of the “Ma’ana Fe Al-Dawar” (Al-Dawar) initiative. Created by media officers from the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP), with support from the USAID-funded Strengthening Egypt’s Family Planning Program (SEFPP), the Al-Dawar initiative targets youth and their communities with messages to increase demand for and use of family planning and reproductive health services. Not only did Fatma act in the plays; she assisted the media officers develop the messages and scripts for them.
Fatma has her own message about the girls in her community:
“Girls are active and productive members [of their communities]; sometimes more than men. Instead of limiting them, communities need to give [girls] the trust and space to prove their capabilities.”
Fatma and her peers debuted the plays in front of their friends, families, and community members. Government officials from the MOHP/Family Planning Sector, Aswan FP Directorate, and Ministry of Social Solidarity, and representatives from local organizations also attended.
People responded enthusiastically to the plays, and many parents encouraged their children to get involved in similar activities. If they are interested, they should talk to Fatma: she has formed her own community theatre troupe, which currently has 35 members.
“We need our children to receive better care, education, and life opportunities and we will not achieve this without family planning.”
A five-year, USAID-funded activity, SEFPP works with the Government of Egypt to reduce the unmet need of women and men for family planning counseling services and methods through evidence-based planning, decision making, and policy formulation. Read more about SEFPP here.