Gender inequality impacts on access to modern family planning methods

Mujer con niño y bebé, sonriendo a la cámara

Montevideo, February 10, 2023. Recently, the article "The role of gender inequality and health expenditure on the coverage of demand for family planning satisfied by modern contraceptives: a multilevel analysis of cross-sectional studies in 14 LAC countries" was published in Lancet for the Americas with technical contributions from the Latin American Center for Perinatology - Women's and Reproductive Health (CLAP/WR).

This study presents the first evidence that the Gender Inequality Index, a country-level measure of women's disadvantage, affects the coverage of demand for family planning satisfied. The lower the gender inequality in the country, the greater the chances of achieving universal coverage of family planning demand met with modern methods.

The Latin American and Caribbean region presents some challenges that are important to consider. Countries have low national fertility rates, which vary by population subgroups. Contraceptive use also presents inequalities, especially in the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC). Subgroups of sexually active women in rural areas, adolescents aged 15 to 17 years, from lower quintiles, of indigenous ethnicity, and with no education had lower LARC contraceptive prevalence compared to their peers in the same country. The limited supply of a combination of modern contraceptive methods, or even the lack of availability of modern contraceptives and reduced access to health care, contribute to the perpetuation of inequalities.

The article analyzes the reality and disparity of 14 countries in the region and points out that there is a direct association between the demand for family planning satisfied with modern contraceptive methods (DFPSm) and women's education, wealth index and number of children. This suggests that planning actions, including macro-level approaches focused on reducing gender disparities and consideration of individual-level factors, may be essential to ensure reproductive health for the population of women in need of contraception.

In this sense, the study provides evidence that can contribute to improving international efforts to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights indicators.

The research was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Associação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva (ABRASCO).

Access the article.