When I first started World Vasectomy Day, I was often asked why I would take time from filmmaking to help launch a movement. I explained that ever since 9/11, it no longer felt sufficient to tell stories in hopes of making a difference—I wanted to be part of something that actually is the difference.
So I spent the better part of a decade seeking a story so powerful that in its telling I could make a contribution towards a healthier, even happier planet. During that time, three things became increasingly apparent:
1. Information and communication technology (ICT) is not only changing the way we can distribute our work, it’s changing the nature of storytelling itself. ICT makes it possible to engage audiences in determining the third act (or what the global health community calls “ results” ).
2. Although filmmaking, when done well, can inspire engagement and commitment, actual social change requires long-term, sustainable, scalable ideas that affect systems and institutions, not just individuals.
3. I began to see men as a demographic desperately in need of a storytelling movement to create a positive shift in consciousness and behavior. For me, that story is about how men can do their part to engage in family planning and promote greater health and opportunities for women around the world.
In the search for authentic and energetic partners, I discovered IntraHealth International. This organization is made up of health care champions and innovators committed to seeking new ways of accomplishing hard-to-achieve goals. More than anything, IntraHealth wants everyone everywhere to have access to the health care they need to thrive. It was clear to me when I attended their annual SwitchPoint conference in April that this is an organization that both embraces and supports cutting-edge ideas that have real world applications.
The reasons this makes them a great partner for us include:
1. IntraHealth focuses on health workers as a way to achieve all our global health goals. Likewise, World Vasectomy Day can only achieve success by encouraging vasectomy providers worldwide to join our movement. Without them, we are nothing more than well-intentioned storytellers. 2.Early on we realized that without the participation of the public sector, we could do little more than create a provocative one-day phenomenon. IntraHealth has spent over 35 years building trust and relationships
2. Early on we realized that without the participation of the public sector, we could do little more than create a provocative one-day phenomenon. IntraHealth has spent over 35 years building trust and relationships with governments and Ministries of Health around the world, while partnering with them to improve health care in their countries.
3. World Vasectomy Day is a movement that is both local and global. The decision to choose a permanent form of birth control is profoundly personal, and yet the impact of this personal decision has communal, national, and global ramifications. Likewise, supporting and promoting frontline health workers improves lives one person at a time, while also addressing health challenges that, left unchecked, could wreak havoc the world over.
For these and so many other reasons, we are confident that this year’s World Vasectomy Day will be our most successful ever. Our event will be in Nairobi, Kenya, November 18, 2016, but it will celebrated and acknowledged in over 1,000 clinics, doctor’s offices and hospitals the world over. Together, we’ll not only bring high-quality vasectomy services to men—we’ll also spark the kinds of conversations that lead to real, lasting change.
This post was written in partnership with IntraHealth International.
Photo provided by author