Family Planning, Pivotal to Women’s Lives: The Example of Rakiéta Ouédraogo

A Woman’s Journey

Women’s journeys are portraits of inspiring women who are supported by our partners.
Une bénévole de Marie Stopes International et des femmes avec enfants en arrière plan

Take advice on sexual and reproductive health topics

Rakiéta Ouédraogo lives in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in the poor neighbourhood of Bouassa where she sells fruit and peanuts. At 23 years old, she is married and the mother of two children. Coming from a very large family of 8 children, she wants to start a sibling group of 3 or 4 at the most. Her activity as a shopkeeper, which she practises in front of her door when she has finished taking care of her home, allows her today to participate in the household income, to clothe the children, feed them, take care of them. She would also like to succeed in saving to finance a training course in pharmacy sales. But with a very large family, this balance would surely be called into question because of the lack of time to carry out her activity.

In order to get advice on sexual and reproductive health issues and to choose the contraceptive method that suits her best, she consults a health professional who works as a “Community MS Lady” for the Marie Stopes International association. These “MS Ladies” are midwives, nurses or health auxiliaries. In addition to their general care activities, they work with Marie Stopes International who trains them in family planning.

Proximity service.

For Rakiéta Ouédraogo, this device offers simple access to advice and medical acts related to sexual and reproductive health: “I don’t live far from the office of the Community MS Lady, I often go there for other care and that’s how I knew, during a group discussion, that she also provides family planning”. For the Marie Stopes Association, the challenge is there: to take advantage of the proximity of health professionals who are well established in the communities to reach all women, especially in poor neighbourhoods or in villages that are difficult to reach. Thanks to Community MS Ladies, girls and women of all ages benefit from reliable information, access to various means of contraception, and professional care.

To broach all subjects, without taboo.

Une bénévole de Marie Stopes International qui présente un guide sur la morphologie de la femme dans un village

Rakiéta Ouédraogo chose the contraceptive implant. For her, “mentalities on the issue of contraception have evolved positively. Today, all women, even in the most remote villages, are informed and sensitized. I encourage all my sisters to adopt contraceptive methods like me because there are more advantages than disadvantages”. Furthermore, she believes that topics related to reproductive health are less and less taboo, even if they still need to be approached with tact and discretion. For while Rakiéta describes her husband as “a supporter of family planning”, she admits that this is not the case for all men, “which leads some women to hide”. With the Community MS Lady, all subjects can be discussed: care, contraceptive methods, protection against sexually transmitted infections… “Because she is a woman like me,” she adds.

In Burkina Faso, where every day five women die from pregnancy-related complications, the challenge of the approach led by Marie Stopes International and its MS Ladies is high. It is about fighting maternal mortality and unwanted pregnancies. So that, like Rakiéta Ouédraogo, all women can protect themselves, care for themselves and choose if and when they want to have children.