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Women’s Education, Empowerment, and Contraceptive Use in sub-Saharan Africa: Findings from Recent Demographic and Health Surveys
Authors: Cecilia Larsson, and Maria Stanfors
Source: African Population Studies, 28(2 Supplement): 1022-1034; DOI:
Topic(s): Contraception
Women’s empowerment
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: JUL 2014
Abstract: Fertility remains higher and contraceptive levels are substantially lower in Sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere in the developing world. In this paper we use information on individuals and couples provided in recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS, fifth wave) undertaken in Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, and Zambia. We use bivariate and multivariate techniques to examine the determinants of contraceptive use among married women (aged 15-49), focusing on the impacts of women’s education and empowerment. Our results show that education was an important determinant of contraceptive use, but mattered less in choice of method effectiveness. The impact of education was similar in all the countries studied with the exception of Kenya, where it was non-existent. Empowerment was less important in determining contraceptive use. Efforts to increase contraceptive use in general and the use of modern methods more specifically need to focus on providing basic education for all women and on changing gender roles.