UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
"ICPD 94" January 1994 Number 11 Newsletter of the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, Egypt, 5-13 September 1994 FAMILY PLANNING COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIES EXAMINED How to best convey family planning messages was a main topic at the Round Table on Population and Communication, organized by the Austrian Government in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund. The Round Table, the fifth in a series, took place in Vienna from 2-3 December and served as part of the preparatory process leading up to ICPD. In his opening statement Jyoti Shankar Singh, Executive Coordinator of ICPD, underlined the importance of communication to create awareness of population issues and to convey family planning and reproductive health messages. "Electronic media, print media [and] interpersonal interventions", he said, were all part of "the kind of comprehensive information, education and communication (IEC) strategies we need in pursuit of population goals." At the round table, family planning communications specialists, film and radio producers, population experts and government officials discussed how attitudes and beliefs could be changed through the innovative use of traditional and mass media. CASE STUDIES PRESENTED The meeting featured case studies and presentations by communication practitioners and covered a wide range of subjects, such as: the use of folk tradition and drama to organize community action in Egypt; the use of micro-communications to encourage acceptance of family planning in the Philippines; the use of traditional and modern media in Ghana; and the use of songs to propagate family planning messages in Latin America. The success in India and Mexico of radio and television soap operas and films on family planning subjects was also discussed. To place communication activities in a broader context, Professor Charles Westoff of Princeton University lectured on "Demographic Trends and the Factors Influencing these Trends"; and Steven Sinding, Director of Population Sciences for the Rockefeller Foundation, spoke on "Resource Mobilization." In addition, the meeting heard about international cooperation to support media from a representative of Inter Press Service, a global news agency which focuses on developing countries. Robert Lamb, director of the London-based TVE, Television Trust for the Environment, discussed "Marketing and Advertisement" films. Contrary to popular belief in this age of satellite communication, Mr. Lamb said, television productions should target local audiences and use material that reflects local realities rather than conveying global messages. Three panels covered the subjects of "Traditional and Non- commercial Media", "Electronic Media" and "Strengthening Population Communications." Following a final discussion chaired by Peter Jankowitsch, former Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the round table adopted a set of recommendations resulting from the deliberations and presentations. The 37 recommendations dealt with, among other things, the linkages between IEC and family planning, the use of both traditional and modern entertainment to convey population related messages, and the effective use of different channels in creating awareness and mobilizing action at both community and national levels. Dr. Nafis Sadik, ICPD Secretary-General, said in a closing statement, "There are no easy answers, and no simple solutions to the problem of change. We are dealing with human minds and there is nothing more complex. The discussion here has shown that great progress has been made in population communications, but the field is growing with technology and with the changing needs of population programmes and those for whom the programmes are intended. "We have to move ahead in a coordinated manner, programme designers working with communicators, communicators working with outreach personnel," she concluded. "With this kind of team effort, taking advantage of all that modern technology has to offer, we will succeed."