Women's socioeconomic position and contraceptive behavior in Togo

Stud Fam Plann. 1995 Sep-Oct;26(5):264-77.


Few studies have examined empirically the influence of women's position on contraceptive behavior in sub-Saharan Africa. Using data from the 1988 Togo Demographic and Health Survey, this article explores the linkages between various indicators of women's position and spousal communication about family planning and contraceptive use. The results highlight the importance to their contraceptive behavior of women's economic power and individual control over choice of partner. The likelihood of spousal communication about family planning and modern contraceptive use is significantly higher among women who exercised complete control over selection of partner than among those with arranged marriages. Women who work for cash are significantly more likely than those who do not to communicate with their spouses about family planning, particularly if they participate in rotating credit or savings schemes. Such participation also increases significantly the likelihood of ever using traditional and modern methods of contraception.

PIP: Two main hypotheses were examined: 1) the greater the influence of family over a woman's choice of partner, the lower the likelihood of spousal communication about family planning and her use of modern contraceptives; 2) women who work for cash are more likely to discuss family planning and use modern methods than those who do not. The data came from the 1988 Togo Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). A total of 3360 women 15-49 years old were interviewed, of whom 2454 were currently married. Four ethnic groups were distinguished: Adja-Ewe, Kabye-Tem, Para-Gourma, and others. Substantial ethnic differences existed regarding women's position. At least 1 in 4 women was living in an arranged marriage with more than 50% of women among the Para-Gourma ethnic group in arranged marriages. Cash employment rates were substantially higher among the Adja-Ewe than among the Para-Gourma and Kabye-Tem. Fewer than 40% of currently married Togolese women had ever discussed family planning with their husbands. About half of the educated women had discussed it compared with fewer than a third of uneducated women. Such communication ranged from 25% among the Para-Gourma to 43% among the Adja-Ewe. 10% of currently married women had ever used modern contraceptives, but only 3% were currently using them. Those who first married at age 18 or later were less likely than those who married earlier to have ever used traditional contraceptives. The use of modern methods was twice as prevalent among women who first married at age 18 or older than among those who married before age 16. The Para-Gourma and Kabye-Tem had the lowest proportion of currently married women who had ever used modern methods. Multivariate analyses showed that the Adja-Ewe women were most likely to discuss family planning with their spouses; and cash work and control over earnings were significant determinants of the likelihood of spousal communication about family planning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Togo