AbstractsWomens Studies

Gender, Power, and Depo-Provera: Constraints on Reproductive Choice in Rural Nicaragua

by Nicolette Jeannette Dent

Institution: University of Oregon
Year: 2014
Keywords: Global Health; Gender; Nicaragua; Depo-Provera; Reproductive Health; Contraception; Latin America
Record ID: 2029052
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/18140


Using interviews conducted with 87 women in 2003 in Nicaragua, my research explores how gender ideologies reinforce men's non-involvement with family planning and limit women's reproductive choices. The popularity of the injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera among this sample reflects these patterns of gender inequality and social constraints on women's health and power in Latin America. I used Pearson chi-square statistics and t-tests of means to analyze the relationships between women's cohabitation and socioeconomic statuses and their contraceptive use. I found that rates ofDepo-Provera use are higher among women who are married or in union, reflecting how the presence of a male partner influences women to choose "invisible" contraceptive methods. I also found that women who do not have access to electricity, as a measure of lower socioeconomic status, use Depo-Provera at higher rates than women who have electricity. I situate these findings within the historical and cultural context ofNicaragua, and within the contested social history ofDepo-Provera. While the current administration in Nicaragua acknowledges the need to involve men in reproductive health issues, men's lack of participation in family planning remains a global concern. I suggest that women will not be able to employ reproductive choice until governments address issues of gender equality and encourage male participation in reproductive health and responsibility.