Global Health article entered into Routledge 2016 Millennium Development Goals collection for MDG #5 Gender Equity

Gender, inequality and Depo-Provera: Constraints on reproductive choice in Nicaragua

This article examines the sociocultural determinants of Nicaraguan women’s use of Depo-Provera as a means of contraception. The prevalence of Depo-Provera in Nicaragua is high and increasing compared to other Central American countries. Drawing on data from structured interviews with 87 women and from focus groups with 32 women, we show how women’s preference for Depo is shaped by both gendered inequalities and socioeconomic constraints. We employ basic statistical tests to analyze correlations between women’s marital status and socioeconomic status (SES) with contraceptive use. Our statistical findings show significant associations between use of Depo and both marital status and SES, such that women who are married or in conjugal unions and women with lower SES are more likely to use Depo. To help explain women’s use of Depo-Provera in Nicaragua, we situate our findings within the context of gender, culture, and power, reviewing the contested history of Depo-Provera in the developing world and dynamics of gender inequality, which constrain women’s contraceptive choices. We conclude with suggestions for reproductive health programming in Nicaragua and beyond, arguing that gender equity and addressing socioeconomic barriers to family planning remain priorities for the achievement of global reproductive health.

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