Love Matters in Bali
RNW Media

#PleasureMatters at the International Conference on Family Planning

Hampered by exploding volcanoes and rogue ash clouds, the postponed International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) finally took place in Bali at the end of January. And Love Matters was there in force (if a little jet-lagged).

It proved to be a fantastic opportunity for learning, for connecting with like-minded organisations and raising awareness around the Love Matters project. It was also a moment to address a topic otherwise conspicuously lacking from the conference agenda: Pleasure.

Presenting at the Marketplace of Ideas, Love Matters’ Michelle Chakkalackal talked about how using the language of pleasure can be a game-changer when it comes to effectively reaching young people with information regarding their reproductive health.

The audience included SRHR Ambassador for the Netherlands Lambert Grijns, SRHR Youth Ambassador Lotte Dijkstra (pictured right), as well as members of both SHARENET and the Pleasure Project.

“Love Matters is unique because we take a positive, pleasure approach to sex and sexuality including family planning. So what does this mean? It means that we acknowledge that people often have sex because it feels good,” Michelle explained. “We don’t talk about coitus or use the word intercourse. We talk about sex or making love. We acknowledge that pleasure exists. We talk about even, shh…, orgasms.”

Sex in context
She went on to acknowledge that sex often happens within and outside the context of a relationship or while in love. Which is why on the Love Matters sites, you’ll find info on making love, love & relationships, and marriages.

To family planners this might seem off topic. But since Love Matters launched over 4.5 years ago, they have had over 34 million visits to their websites and 93 million page views. And that's not counting the 1.5 million plus social media followers.

In short: Love Matters is gathering the data to support this approach.

Popular pleasure pages
Indeed, preliminary research has found that their pleasure pages outperformed family planning pages by up to seven times. And were almost eight times more effective at bringing young people to the sites.

“Remember if you plan for the bare minimum info package – birth control, pregnancy, and abortion - there’s an excellent chance that you are missing the opportunity to attract and engage a much larger audience,” Michelle concluded.

This was the fourth ICFP to have been held since 2009, co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institution for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN).

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