Contextual Factors, Gender Relations within the Couple, and Family Planning Use in Dakar-Senegal

Mariam Ben Aya, Université de Montréal
Macoumba Thiam, Université de Montréal

We use qualitative data gathered in Dakar (Senegal) during year 2001 to analyze the impact of contextual factors and gender relations on the use of modern contraception by married couples. We found that virtually all women needed first to challenge their husband's authority before resorting to contraception. Some did so by encountering a conflict and others in a more consensual way that avoided direct confrontation with the husband. In both cases, challenging men's authority was possible mainly because of the economic plight that results into the deprivation of men's economic power and the relatively new phenomenon of women participating in the household economy. However these changes did not yield a more egalitarian gender relation within the couple in many other respects. Nearly all women still grant their husband the right to exert power and this stems from the ingrained social and cultural norms that dictate men's powerful position.

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Presented in Session 34: Couples and Family Planning