Birth Control: Why Zambian Single Women Reject Family Planning

July 8, 2015 • Daily Email Recap

Birth Control: Why Zambian Single Women Reject Family Planning

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Last year I was part of a team that conducted a focus group discussion on family planning and abortion with young women in Zambia. As you can imagine, it was an amazing learning experience. Focus group discussions are always a great way to get information from people themselves. This case was no different.


When we were discussing access to family planning services, one of our participants raised her hand and asked something along the lines of “…why do I need it? Even the name says family planning, planning of the family. If I’m not married what am I planning for?” As soon as the gravity of what she was asking hit me, I realised that underneath my empowered, feminist exterior, I felt the exact same way. Why should I, a single young woman, have any claim whatsoever to products and services that seemed to be branded exclusively for married women with families?


In 1972, women in Zambia were given the chance to make a conscious effort to regulate the number and spacing of births through modern contraceptive methods. It was a giant leap for women and reproductive health services. A report by the Central Statistical Office in 2001 showed that contraceptive use in Zambia had increased from 15% in 1992 to 26% in 1996. By 2001, it was up to 34%. The report went on to show that knowledge of contraceptive methods was widespread and almost universal, with 98% of all women and men aware of at least one method of family planning.


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