Women's Sexual Empowerment and Contraceptive Use in Ghana


Address correspondence to Halley P. Crissman, 1301 Catherine Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109. E-mail: hcrissma@umich.edu.


Pervasive gendered inequities and norms regarding the subordination of women give Ghanaian men disproportionately more power than women, particularly in relation to sex. We hypothesize that lack of sexual empowerment may pose an important barrier to reproductive health and adoption of family planning methods. Using the 2008 Ghana Demographic Health Survey, we examine the association between women's sexual empowerment and contraceptive use in Ghana among nonpregnant married and partnered women not desiring to conceive in the next three months. Increasing levels of sexual empowerment are found to be associated with use of contraceptives, even after adjusting for demographic predictors of contraceptive use. This association is moderated by wealth. Formal education, increasing wealth, and being in an unmarried partnership are associated with contraceptive use, whereas women who identify as being Muslim are less likely to use contraceptives than those who identify as being Christian. These findings suggest that to achieve universal access to reproductive health services, gendered disparities in sexual empowerment, particularly among economically disadvantaged women, need to be better addressed