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Gender and Family Planning Among Indigenous Women in Mexico and Central America: A Call to Action

  • Jessica K. Levy
  • Audrey Goold
  • April Houston
  • Diego Rios-Zertuche
  • Wolfgang Munar
Chapter
Part of the Global Maternal and Child Health book series (GMCH)

Abstract

The freedom to make informed decisions about one’s fertility is essential to securing the autonomy and well-being of women and girls while promoting the health and development of families and communities. Modern contraceptive use is significantly correlated with decreases in unintended pregnancy, maternal and newborn mortality, and unsafe abortion. It is also positively correlated with gains in individual- and population-level education and economic prosperity. Over the last few decades, policies and programs committed to increasing voluntary contraceptive use have made great strides across most of Latin America; however, to date, no country has been able to bridge the contraceptive use gap between the region’s indigenous and nonindigenous populations. As program planners and policy-makers look for ways to reduce these disparities, we assert that: (1) the most effective and efficient interventions will be those that address gender norms and inequalities that are significantly correlated with poor family planning outcomes; and (2) addressing these norms and inequalities among indigenous populations will require integrated, crosscutting approaches at all levels of program and policy planning, implementation, and evaluation. To make our argument, we highlight the pathways through which social constructs of gender roles and expectations serve as strong predictors for family planning outcomes. Then, through an analysis of gender norms among various indigenous populations across the region, we identify areas that can be best leveraged to see positive family planning results. We conclude by making recommendations on how to integrate gender into current and future initiatives and highlight the role that inter-sectorial action and systems-informed evaluation may play in such processes.

Keywords

Indigenous women Gender Contraception Mexico Central America Reproductive health Family planning Unintended pregnancy Unmet need Fertility Pregnancy Fertility Unmet need Contraceptive prevalence rate 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica K. Levy
    • 1
  • Audrey Goold
    • 1
  • April Houston
    • 2
  • Diego Rios-Zertuche
    • 3
  • Wolfgang Munar
    • 4
  1. 1.George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Team, CAREAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Salud Mesoamerica InitiativeInter-American Development BankWashington, DCUSA
  4. 4.Department of Global HealthGeorge Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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