Family planning program in Senegal drawn into conflict with religious leaders

March 21, 2014 • Family Planning, Senegal, News

Family planning program in Senegal drawn into conflict with religious leaders
MERETO, Senegal – From the corner of his family’s bustling courtyard, El Hadji Fally Diallo looked out approvingly at his large extended family. Several women with babies on their hips prepared the massive midday meal, and children studying the Koran mumbled verses to themselves.

“It’s like we expanded from one family to three,” Diallo, 76, a village leader, said of his own three wives and expansive brood. “With 30 children, some can go to the field, some can deal with the cattle, some can go abroad. It’s a lot of money you can have with this size family, so that is a lot of power.”

The Diallos have a time-tested definition of success in which a large family plays a central role. But that model is clashing with a government program to increase contraceptive use and reduce family sizes. Largely financed by international donors, the program is part of a global campaign that aims to give 120 million more women around the world access to contraception by 2020.

For supporters of the program, the benefits of contraception are clear: better health for women and children, economic benefits and smaller families.

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