Understanding and Overcoming Bias Against Contraception: The Case for Social Norm Intervention

| March 30, 2024 | Leave a Comment

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Date of Publication: March 22

Year of Publication: 2023

Publication City: South Burlington, VT

Publisher: Population Media Center

It is well known that there are 214 million women in the developing world who have an unmet need for contraception. A persistent current of commentary from some family planning advocates and other development experts – and the popular media discourses following their lead – attribute unmet need (millions of women wanting to avoid pregnancy but not using modern contraception) to a “lack of access” to contraception.

However, Population Media Center’s analyses of multiple DHS reports over the last two decades has consistently described a different reality: women with unmet need for contraception rarely cite cost, inconvenience, or a “lack of access” as the reason they are not using contraception. Rather, the major impediments to contraceptive uptake are rooted in a trifecta of apprehension, fear-inducing rumors, or antagonism towards contraception grounded in either religiosity, fatalism, or patriarchal social norms.

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