Between Tradition and Modernity: Representation of Women in Family Planning Campaigns in Pakistan

Farah Azhar


Pakistan, the fifth most populous country in the world, has had various family planning campaigns since the 1960s, but the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) has remained low compared with other South Asian countries. The promotional messages of the nonprofits Greenstar Social Marketing Campaign (GSM) and DKT International Pakistan are analyzed to see how the discourse surrounding contraception and women’s identity oscillates between the notion of tradition and modernity. The first part of the article focuses on how the promotional messages portray the dialectics between the traditional and biomedical approaches to family planning, while the second part examines how women’s identities are portrayed in these messages. This research is grounded in a culture-centered approach to health communication. Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis (CDA) approach was used as the main methodology. Promotional messages, including Facebook posts, newsletters, brochures, and images from 2009 to 2019, were analyzed. The biomedical approach to family planning is presented by GSM and DKT as a healthier, more successful, and more prosperous approach for Pakistani women, while the traditional approach is backgrounded in these messages or associated with poverty and misery, if mentioned.


Family planning, representation, modernity, culture-centered approach

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