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The Population Council, in partnership with Child In Need Institute in Kolkata, Deepak Charitable Trust in Vadodara, and International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, initiated the First-time Parents Project in India to develop and test an integrated package of health and social interventions to improve married young women’s reproductive and sexual health knowledge and practices, enhance their ability to act in their own interest, and expand their social support networks. The project was formulated on the hypothesis that the periods immediately following marriage and surrounding the first pregnancy and birth offer a unique and powerful entry point for improving the situation of married young women. Findings indicate that the intervention had a significant, positive net effect on most indicators reflecting married young women’s autonomy, social support networks, partner communication, and knowledge of sexual and reproductive health. However, the net effect of exposure to the intervention was mixed with regard to indicators related to gender role attitudes and attitudes toward domestic violence, as well as reproductive health practices. The experience of the intervention demonstrates that it is feasible to improve married young women’s reproductive health knowledge and practices, expand their sources of social support, and involve them in activities with peers in safe spaces outside the home, and through the process empower them in their marital and familial relationships. The report suggests that this model could also be integrated into existing NGO or government services, and could be tested for implementation on a larger scale.






First-time Parents Project