Kenyan Men’s Perceptions of Family Planning Use in the Context of Changing Gender Relations

Mellissa Withers, University of California, Los Angeles
Shari L. Dworkin, University of California, San Francisco
Jennifer M Zakaras, University of California, San Francisco
Maricianah Onono, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
Beryl Oyier, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
Craig R. Cohen, University of California, San Francisco
Elizabeth A. Bukusi, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
Sara J Newmann, University of California, San Francisco

INTRODUCTION: Disapproval from men is a major obstacle to family planning (FP) use among women in sub-Saharan Africa. METHODS: We explored men’s perspectives of gender roles and norms as they pertain to FP. Twelve focus group discussions were held with married men (n=106) in Nyanza Province, Kenya. RESULTS: Men felt that shifting gender relations made the definitions of manhood more tenuous than ever. Fears about women’s increased sexual freedom as a result of FP were amplified by men’s perception of eroding decision-making dominance within the household. Women’s FP use was seen as another way in which male authority was being undermined. DISCUSSION: To increase male support of FP, healthcare providers could highlight FP’s positive implications for men, such as the financial benefits of smaller families. Increased FP education for men could help dispel misconceptions. Community leaders and male outreach workers could serve as role models to promote male FP involvement.

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 Presented in Session P9. Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, and Reproductive Health