In Senegal, less than 12% of women have access to birth control.
At SHI we are strong advocates for family planning and birth spacing. We firmly believe that all women have the right to choose the size of their family and when to have their children. In Senegal, less than 12% of women are using birth control. This low number is due to the fact that most women don’t have access to modern contraceptives, lack knowledge about contraception in general, or fear that their husbands will object. Although the official fertility rate quoted by is 4.9 per woman, at SHI we have discovered it is not unusual for a Senegalese woman to give birth to 7 or more children in her lifetime.
For women in Senegal who do have access to contraceptives, the most common option is injectable Depo-Provera, an injection received 4 times a year. Women prefer this method as it is easy to hide from their husbands. However, women often walk miles to get this injection, only to find that the clinic has run out of birth control altogether, making it difficult to stay on any program. This shortage occurs about 150 days a year.
Family planning reduces maternal and newborn mortality rates and improves the health and well-being of women and their existing children. A woman’s ability to choose when and how many children to have helps to break the cycle of poverty by easing the economic burden on families. This in turn improves the prosperity of the entire community.
At SHI we are working to educate women and their partners on the importance of contraception and birth spacing, providing them with easier access to birth control and fully stocked clinics. A further goal of SHI is the education of adolescent females about their reproductive health and the advantages of postponing motherhood. We plan to expand this project throughout the villages of the Casamance region of Senegal.