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Soc Sci Med. 2014 Aug;115:111-20. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.06.014. Epub 2014 Jun 11.

Women's empowerment and fertility: a review of the literature.

Author information

1
Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, 1330 Broadway, Suite 1100, Oakland, CA 94612, United States; Women's Health & Empowerment Center of Expertise, University of California Global Health Institute, United States. Electronic address: upadhyayu@obgyn.ucsf.edu.
2
Department of Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, CHS 46-071B, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, United States; Women's Health & Empowerment Center of Expertise, University of California Global Health Institute, United States. Electronic address: jgipson@ucla.edu.
3
UCLA Center for the Study of Women, Box 957222, Public Affairs 1500, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7222, United States; Women's Health & Empowerment Center of Expertise, University of California Global Health Institute, United States. Electronic address: mellwit@yahoo.com.
4
UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science and Health Policy, University of California Hastings College of the Law, 200 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA 94102, United States. Electronic address: lewissh@uchastings.edu.
5
Department of Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, CHS 46-071B, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, United States. Electronic address: eciaraldi@ucla.edu.
6
Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, 17 University Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, United States; Women's Health & Empowerment Center of Expertise, University of California Global Health Institute, United States. Electronic address: afraser@berkeley.edu.
7
San Francisco General Hospital, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, 50 Beale St, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94105, United States; Women's Health & Empowerment Center of Expertise, University of California Global Health Institute, United States. Electronic address: megan.huchko@ucsf.edu.
8
Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, 17 University Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, United States; Women's Health & Empowerment Center of Expertise, University of California Global Health Institute, United States. Electronic address: ndola@berkeley.edu.

Abstract

Women's empowerment has become a focal point for development efforts worldwide and there is a need for an updated, critical assessment of the existing evidence on women's empowerment and fertility. We conducted a literature review on studies examining the relationships between women's empowerment and several fertility-related topics. Among the 60 studies identified for this review, the majority were conducted in South Asia (n = 35) and used household decision-making as a measure of empowerment (n = 37). Overall, the vast majority of studies found some positive associations between women's empowerment and lower fertility, longer birth intervals, and lower rates of unintended pregnancy, but there was some variation in results. In many studies, results differed based on the measure of empowerment used, sociopolitical or gender environment, or sub-population studied. This article is one of the first evaluations of the literature assessing the relationships between women's empowerment and fertility. We identify several key issues that merit further investigation.

KEYWORDS:

Abortion; Birth spacing; Fertility; Gender; Ideal family size; Number of children; Unintended pregnancy; Women's empowerment

PMID:
24955875
PMCID:
PMC4096045
DOI:
10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.06.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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