Community Engagement

A Family Planning Board Game

The game that’s incentivizing families to plan for their future (and play) together.

La Famille Idéale—a community board game, a public conversation, and a moment of celebration—has been adapted to three different contexts, changing the way couples plan for the future of their families. 

Originally, Marie Stopes International (MSI) partnered with IDEO​.org to build more acceptance and demand for contraception among adolescent girls in rural Burkina Faso. After seeing the success of the pilot, MSI worked with IDEO​.org to adapt it to Senegal and Niger. The game has shapeshifted to better reflect the ideologies, aspirations, and culture of each context. 

A game, conversation, and moment of celebration

In Burkina Faso, a country that ranks 147th out of 162 countries in the Gender Inequality Index, family planning stigma prevents many women from talking about contraception with their husbands, much less accessing services. The team wanted to promote women’s choice and safety alongside community buy-in. The design nods to male authority, but puts women at its center—building their knowledge and confidence in having conversations about contraception with their husbands.

At the center of La Famille Idéale is a board game that combines role play, lighthearted conversations, and a fair share of behavioral economics to dispel myths and strengthen communication around family planning—at the individual, family and community level. The board game, accompanied by deeper conversations between young couples, kindles dialogues between men and women that wouldn’t have been entertained otherwise. 

The audience that huddles around the game is elemental to the experience—their opinions, candid inquiries, and playful banter create space for an MSI facilitator to answer questions and dispel common myths about family planning. Men and women are invited to play separately, creating a safe space for women to ask questions and open up. After enjoying the game, participants are invited to further celebrate their family by taking a photo and opting for a more in-depth and personal conversation on family planning with a member of the MSI team. 

We already knew a lot about family planning but through this game, we understand how to really apply it to our life.

Teenage husband

When we prototyped the game in different contexts, people gathered to watch and chime in, awaiting the results of who would win.

Adapting to different contexts

After piloting the La Famille Idéale approach in Burkina Faso, MSI invited IDEO​.org to work alongside their team to adapt the solution to the Senegalese context as well as Niger and now Mali. We modified some of the mechanics of the game to include incentives that better reflect the culture and visuals to better depict the religion, education, and aspirations of each community. For example, although sending kids to school is a shared aspiration across contexts, in Niger, parents aspire for their kids to have a career after school. In adapting it to the Senegalese context, the illustrations reflect the makeup of families with more children and wives. In all its adaptations, people experience how their individual choices affect their aspirations of having healthy and successful children.

The board game has become a catalyst for deeply engaging, light-hearted, and safe conversations for the whole community. During the pilot of La Famille Idéale (previously called La Belle Famille), the Burkina Faso Outreach teams saw improved adolescent reach from 15.8% to 19.6%, this was an increase of 3.8% compared to just 0.7% at control sites. We have been excited to see how quickly men and women started playing and planning for their ideal family, together. 

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