Instep Today

The drivers of social change

Instep Today
By Mehek Saeed
Wed, 06, 19

A group of students put together an impressive idea for birth control in underprivileged areas.

A group of students at the Szabist University in Karachi came up with a very perceptive, empathetic and socially aware campaign that deserves attention.

In a ‘Design for Social Change’ class, the team of students came up with a holistic campaign idea for promoting Safe Pregnancy and Birth Control for women in underprivileged areas.

Instep got in touch with one of the students behind it, Phaseeh ul Haq as well as Aman Foundation, who collaborated on the project, to learn more about the idea and whether it’s been implemented.

‘Nukaat’ is what they called their project because it took into account ‘points’ of awareness, education and empowerment. “We wanted to call it something that was simple, yet had meaning because nukaat translates to points. We wanted our campaign to be sound safe and approachable because the communities we were working with harbor a fear of the unknown and what doesn’t seem familiar like with polio vaccinations. Nukaat was in their language and not something frightening,” Phaseeh shared.

The most unique part of the concept is that the students worked around the existing family dynamics and social situation of the married women in their target areas; Bin Qasim, Korangi, Landhi and Malir. “We had to figure out a way for these women to continue safely consuming and tracking their pills without upsetting their social fabric. They were open to the pills but they were not willing to compromise their family dynamic in any way.

Another learning [for us] was that although the women seemed to prefer pills over other contraceptive methods, women weren’t allowed contraceptive pills due to religio-cultural stigmas associated to them,” he revealed.

Phaseeh explained that they had to take the pills in hiding from their families, which made tracking the pill cycle very difficult and they would almost always end up missing the pills. “They avoided marking calendars in fear of drawing any suspicions,” he shared.

It was observed by the team that they found pill tracking instructions and tables a tad bit complicated to make sense of on their own given they avoided counselors or clinics until necessary. “Eventually we noticed that most women in our target community wore bangles of certain colours, so we came up with the idea of designing an abacus style pill tracker, discreetly incorporated in a bangle stand with specialised plastic bangles. Something we thought they could implicitly place in their rooms and use to track their dosages without drawing any unwarranted speculations so we made the proto-type for the bangle-stand pill tracker, along with the rest of our campaign collaterals,” he said.

The campaign was a linguistically inclusive design in Balochi, Punjabi and Urdu as the women in the targeted areas were from many different backgrounds. “The Aman representative who reviewed our project loved the idea so much that they decided to work on it further to distribute it in the target community as an Aman resource.”

Instep got in touch with Lutaf Ali Mangrio from Aman Foundation who shared that they are looking for funding to launch this concept but have been very keen on doing so since they first saw it. The importance of working on such simple yet inclusive solutions is paramount. Looking into the social stigmas in certain areas and then designing strategies with colleges, NGOs and grants supporting this is the need of the hour.