Few studies have examined the different dimensions of women's empowerment and contraceptive use in African countries. Data for this study came from the latest round of Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 2006 and 2008 in Namibia, Zambia, Ghana and Uganda. Responses from married or cohabiting women ages 15–49 were analyzed for six dimensions of empowerment and the current use of female-only methods or couple methods. Bivariate and multivariate multinomial regressions were used to identify associations between the empowerment dimensions and method use. Positive associations were found between the overall empowerment score and method use in all countries (relative risk ratios, 1.1–1.3). In multivariate analysis, household economic decision-making was associated with the use of either female-only or couple methods (1.1 for all), as was agreement on fertility preferences (1.3–1.6) and the ability to negotiate sexual activity (1.1–1.2). In Namibia, women's negative attitudes toward domestic violence were correlated with the use of couple methods (1.1). Intervention programs aimed at increasing contraceptive use might need to involve different approaches, including promoting couples' discussion of fertility preferences and family planning, improving women's self-efficacy in negotiating sexual activity and increasing their economic independence.
International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Volume 38, Number 1, 2012
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