Women's empowerment and contraceptive use: The role of independent versus couples' decision-making, from a lower middle income country perspective

Waqas Hameed, Syed Khurram Azmat, Moazzam Ali, Muhammad Ishaque Sheikh, Ghazunfer Abbas, Marleen Temmerman, Bilal Iqbal Avan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: There is little available evidence of associations between the various dimensions of women's empowerment and contraceptive use having been examined - and of how these associations are mediated by women's socio-economic and demographic statuses. We assessed these phenomena in Pakistan using a structured-framework approach. Methods: We analyzed data on 2,133 women who were either using any form of contraceptive or living with unmet need for contraception. The survey was conducted during May - June 2012, with married women of reproductive age (15-49 years) in three districts of Punjab. The dimensions of empowerment were categorized broadly into: economic decisionmaking, household decision-making, and women's mobility. Two measures were created for each dimension, and for the overall empowerment: women's independent decisions, and those taken jointly by couples. Contraceptive use was categorized as either female-only or couple methods on the basis of whether a method requires the awareness of, or some support and cooperation from, the husband. Multinomial regression was used, by means of Odds Ratios (OR), to assess associations between empowerment dimensions and female-only and couple contraceptive methods. Results: Overall, women tend to get higher decision-making power with increased age, higher literacy, a greater number of children, or being in a household that has superior socio-economic status. The measures for couples' decision-making for overall empowerment and for each dimension of it showed positive associations with couple methods as well as with female-only methods. The only exception was the measure of economic empowerment, which was associated only with the couple method. Conclusion: Couples' joint decision-making is a stronger determinant of the use of contraceptive methods than womenonly decision-making. This is the case over and above the contribution of women's socio-demographic and economic statuses. Effort needs to be made to educate women and their husbands equally, with particular focus on highly effective contraceptive methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere104633
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

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