Local understandings of and responses to population interventions in Bangladesh

Sidney Ruth Schuler, Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Farzana Islam, Jahangirnagar University
Lisa M. Bates, Harvard Medical School
Md. Khairul Islam, Plan International

This paper examines how rural people in Bangladesh understand and respond to a new set of national policies and programs - intended to delay marriage and childbearing - which follow on the heels of, and overlap with, Bangladesh's long-running family planning program. Both initiatives aim to influence private behavior and change cultural norms (and the family planning program has been very successful in doing this). The paper will present new ethnographic data from three villages, and will build on our earlier work documenting ideational change in connection with the family planning program. Like family planning, interventions to delay marriage and childbearing represent a potential challenge to inegalitarian gender norms. Early experience suggests these interventions are being pursued with less caution regarding a possible patriarchal backlash. The paper will examine similarities and differences in local responses to these two sets of policies and programs.

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Presented in Poster Session 3