UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

Family Planning Communications Strategies Examined

"ICPD 94" 

January 1994 

Number 11

Newsletter of the International Conference on Population and

Development, Cairo, Egypt, 5-13 September 1994


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.


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


     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


     "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."

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