Marie Stopes Nepal had launched an innovative project funded by Marie Stopes International, Nepal to work with newlywed couples through the wedding industry in 2014. This project had identified newlywed couples and offered a comprehensive package to help them plan their family before or shortly after their wedding. Under this project, Marie Stopes Nepal had preparing to launched a targeted communications campaign to young newlyweds with the help of wedding industry providers and other related contact points.

Sex is an integral part of a married life. Sexual and physical intimacy and compatibility is as important as emotions, intellectual and financial compatibility. But still many youth, who are getting married or newlywed, are not aware about Sexual and Reproductive health issues like family planning, contraception, pregnancy, etc. With high early marriage rated and low use of Family planning devices among young people in Asia, including Nepal, many young couples begin their marriage ill equipped to plan their families. As a result, many young couples end up giving unwanted and untimely birth at young ages when they are not yet ready to be responsible parents.

To provide much needed information on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Marie Stopes Nepal launched an innovated project and named it Subhaarambha for newlyweds.

A series of focus group discussions were conducted as the baseline of the project. The focus group discussion (FGD) conducted among young newly engaged and newlywed men and women have shown that most of the newly engaged and newlyweds couples do not discuss about family planning issues and Reproductive Health with their spouse/ partner which led them to unintended pregnancies and worried about their future. They feel hesitation to discuss with their spouse/partner regarding family planning and Reproductive Health. Many young couples do have a myth and misconceptions regarding the use of contraceptive for instance contraceptive cause’s lack of interest in sex life; will affect their fertility in future and so son. We have found this kind of myths and misconception even in well educated person.

So, the initiation is trying to explore different approaches to reach to the newly engaged and newlywed couples, mainly through wedding industries beauty parlor, shirting and suiting, party place, wedding planners etc. Through wedding industries newly engaged and newlywed couples will be identified and contacted with wedding countdown SMS, confidential counseling through hotline, information on Family Planning and Sexual and Reproductive Health and so on. Once targeted couples are finalized, this initiation will also conduct Pre-wedding Mela “Fair” / Event to bring the young newly engaged and newlywed couples together in cozy environment with the help of fun activities such as make-up demonstrations, couples games, alongside FP and SRH information.

A newlywed couple Rajesh and Sita participated in Pre-wedding Meal in Kathmandu (referred by wedding industry) organised by Shubharambha for Newlyweds. They had an arranged marriage where they got limited time to know each other. They were a shy couple. During the event a drama which focused in "Spousal Communication" was shown. The couple also participated in games like "Known your partner" and "Paper Dance". They shared," we have never thought about participating in a program where we would be sharing a great time with each other. Till now we are not able to open up with each other. This event has shown us another side of our relationship. there is a communication gap in our relationship. we do realize but we never shared with each other. From now onward, we will communicate with each other. Thank you for bringing us closer."

“I was worried every time when I slept with my wife. We now have four children. There was nobody to explain me all these things (protection against unwanted pregnancy); where could I have gone? Every time my wife got pregnant I was left with no choices but to give birth as there was nobody who could aware me about the importance of birth spacing and limited child. Things might have been different if I had found someone who could have told me about the importance of Reproductive Health/Family Planning 5 years back. Now, I am struggling economically; things are going very hard for me. I had to move to Capital from my hometown for the earning”.

These are the words of Mahesh Thakur, a barber who is just 26 years old and who came to attend one of our orientation programs for wedding industry staffs. Now, he wants to change things for others. He further said, “I usually spend my time discussing about reproductive health related things while cutting hair or shaving for my clients of different age groups in which some of them could be Newlyweds. Now, I can tell every newly wedded person about the importance of managing the family for the better future so that they do not have to suffer like me.”

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