Women’s Empowerment and Reproductive Autonomy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Annie Glover , Tulane University

With a TFR of 6.6, the DRC has one of the highest fertility rates in the world. While Congolese women state a preference for large families, nearly a third of married women (28%) have an unmet need for contraception, and 25% of married women’s pregnancies are unplanned. Previous studies show that empowerment is related to reproductive outcomes, such as contraceptive use and unplanned pregnancy, but they have focused on limited definitions of empowerment and have not used validated measures. This study operationalizes Kabeer’s theory of women’s empowerment through a validated factor analysis to assess the relationship between empowerment and reproductive autonomy in DRC. This study finds that empowerment is significantly related to reproductive autonomy, but this relationship varies based on the dimension of empowerment measured. This multidimensional analysis allows a nuanced study of women's empowerment that may inform future policy and program decisions in family planning.

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 Presented in Session 10. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health 2