Women’s Demand for Reproductive Control: Understanding and Addressing Gender Barriers

Over the last two decades, access to high-quality reproductive health services has become a center piece of the global movement for women’s empowerment. While progress has been made in research, programming, and policy, millions of women each year still experience unintended pregnancies, and millions more have unmet need for family planning. One of the persistent gaps in knowledge is the role of gender barriers that women face in defining and achieving their reproductive intentions. This paper provides a gender analysis of women’s demand for reproductive control. This analysis illuminates how the social construction of gender affects fertility preferences, unmet need, and the barriers that women face to using contraception and safe abortion. It also helps to bridge important dichotomies in the population, family planning, and reproductive health fields.

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