A young couple relax under a tree, near their sleeping baby. A golden sunset washes over them. They are alone. Stirred by the moment, the husband reaches for his wife.

She stops him, gently but firmly. She says nothing, just hums ‘Ek Teen Do’ (‘One three two’). He smiles and backs off good-naturedly.

His voice, over visuals of their visit to health workers, explains. Husband and wife both agree that waiting three years for a second child is good not only for the health of a mother and her children, but for the family’s finances. He then produces a pair of gold earrings for his delighted wife.

The importance of birth spacing

This film is part of the ‘Ek Teen Do’ advertisement campaign that encourages people to space births.

Almost two-thirds of rural women in Bihar have children at intervals of less than three years. Even women who would prefer to wait before conceiving again, on grounds of health, are under social pressure to produce several children, and ideally two sons.

Few families, therefore, are persuaded by the argument that birth spacing is good for the health of mother and children. Women who would like to plan their families also feel stymied by their husbands’ lack of interest in talking about it.

Fayeda and communication

The ad campaign highlights two important things.

The first is ‘fayeda’, or benefit. Longer gaps between births mean fewer expenses and more resources for the whole family. In a largely poor society, more money is always welcome.

The second is communication between spouses. In the ad, the husband is completely involved in family planning along with his wife, whether it is seeking information from a health worker, or deciding on the most suitable form of contraception. He cooperates with his wife, even when that means denying himself.

The wife, for her part, stands her ground, confident in the knowledge that he is on board with their shared goal.

‘Ek Teen Do’ is useful shorthand for couples to use. Not only is it a catchy play on an incredibly popular 1980s Bollywood song, it’s also self-explanatory.

The Shaping Demand and Practices project will transpose the campaign to other media such as radio and mobiles, as part of its ‘360 degree’ communications approach.


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