Public Health

Factors Influencing the Attitude of Women Towards Family Planning in Nigeria

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to find out the factors that influence women’s attitudes toward family planning in the Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. Specifically, the study attempts to determine the influence of education, health, religion, culture, age of women, and income on women’s attitudes towards family planning.

This research work deals with contraceptive methods, the importance of family planning, and the benefits of family planning. A total of 100 questionnaires were administered to issues of the target population which are the educated women randomly selected from five communities under Egor Local Government: Uselu, Uwasota, Osasogie, Evbareke, Osakpamwan. The subjects were selected using simple random sampling. The data collected were analyzed using a percentage approach, and the results showed that:

  1. Women recognize the impact of family planning on their families.
  2. Family planning is an opportunity for couples to plan their family toward a better standard of living.

In the research, recommendations were made based on findings from the data analyzed, amongst which are that:

  1. There should be enlightenment programmes to educate people on the need for family planning.
  2. Incentives should be provided for couples that practice family planning to encourage more people towards it.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

As the name implies, family planning is having children by choice and not by chance; it is the process of having a specific number of children at intervals acceptable by individuals or couples to promote the health and welfare of the family. Family planning is not a new idea worldwide and applies to the Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. Throughout the ages, individuals and families have tried to regulate their fertility by using herbs, abstinence during ovulation, prolonged breastfeeding, and living with parent in-laws to avoid sex or polygamy.

Historically, most communities in the past used to have policies that encouraged a large population. Traditionally, in Africa, the low level of economic development and heavy reliance on agriculture has brought about several factors that promote high fertility. In addition, according to Namboze J.M.E. (1985), religious and cultural traditions favour large families because children are expected to help their parents financially and ensure a kind of family immortality by continuity of the family name.

African women traditionally have played significant roles in agricultural production. However, their primary functions are wives and mothers having the limited right as subordinates to the males in the household. The status of women is further eroded by the practice of polygamy because they have limited opportunities. Therefore, at the societal level, childbearing is an essential way for them to gain status through the number of children raised.

They need children, especially sons to ensure that someone cares for them in their old age. Children are also required for labour on the farm and potential old age security, which they provide in later life, especially for their mothers, because women are often denied inheritance rights or forfeit the right to use land upon the death of their husband. Also, a man’s health and integrity are usually determined by the number of wives and children he has. Since people highly practiced the African religion, they believed that ancestors were expected to reincarnate through childbirth as descendants.

Today, many parents have realized that having a large family may bring difficulty in feeding, clothing, and providing a good education. Women have come to see that cooking, housekeeping chores combined with making a living, bearing, and raising children are arduous tasks and gradually retards the health of both mother and children. In 1956, family planning was introduced by a body of elites in Lagos due to the alarming rate of abandoned children resulting from teenage pregnancy, criminal abortions, and death. This elite group formed a body known as the marriage guidance counselors, which later liaised with the International Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN).

In 1958, Dr. Adeyemi Jones started the first family planning clinic in Ibadan, but it did not last due to a lack of funds. In 1959, the Family Planning Council of Nigeria was formed, while later, it became the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN).  Since the vastness of childbearing has gradually led to a population explosion, many individuals and organizations have complained and said that parents should cut down their family size and have made family planning an issue of moral, social, and political considerations. Such agencies include the International Planned Parenthood Association, the Pathfinder Fund, the International Training for Health Programme, and the World Health Organization.

Some leaders have equally spoken of the need for family planning differently. According to Delano (1990), while quoting Julius Nyerere of Tanzania in 1959, “giving birth is something in which humans and animals are equal but rearing the young and especially educating them for many years is a unique gift and responsibility of man.  For this reason, a man needs to emphasize caring for children and the ability to look after them properly, rather than thinking about the number or sex of children”.  Looking at the past, even though our forefathers believed in large families, as stated earlier, birth control measures were also in use.  This manifested itself in sex taboos (frowning at pre-marital sex), abstinence, wearing of magical charms and talismans made from the worm of the lioness, and even the use of a child’s tooth or tooth or cat’s liver for protection against unwanted pregnancies and consequent abortion.

Davis (1992) also supported the above method adding that our forefathers recognized the need for child spacing via traditional methods that applied to their circumstances. According to Delano (1990), while tracing the encyclopedia, the oldest recorded family planning theories are contained in the ancient Egyptian Petri papyrus, written about 1850 BC, and the Ebers papyrus, dated about 1550 BC, which described some methods of contraception. Even in Greece and Rome, there was much concern over fertility regulations.

The ancient knowledge was incorporated into the writing of scientific doctors and was the scientific basis for contraception up to the late 17thcentury. From this, people should note that contraception had a place in the days of old to preserve the health of the child and mother.

However, compared with modern contraceptives, some of these traditional methods appear strange in their preparations and applications. It is via intensive research that the current methods of birth control emerged to minimize complications, develop practical and non-injurious, convenient, reliable, enjoyable, easily accessible, and also able to meet the needs of individuals and couples. On this note, various birth workers like Jeremy Bentheim of England and Margaret Sawyer of the USA are known and remembered for championing the cause of birth control in different countries and at other points in history.

In this study, therefore, attempts shall be made to find out what women in Egor Community understand about the concept of family planning and methods of contraception commonly practiced, precisely, finding out about the effect of education, income, religion, culture, age, health, as they influence the attitude of women towards family planning; dealing extensively with the importance and benefits of family planning.

Statement of Problem

Various individuals, national and international organizations such as the World Health Organization, Population Reference Bureau, etc., have cried out over the dangers of population explosion and have equally suggested that couples cut down their family size.

Depreciating standard of living and inadequate facilities due to increased population demands are also part of the issues that plague our society. From the observation, this research is an attempt to study the factors that influence the attitude of women towards family planning.

Purpose of Study

This study aims to survey the influence of education, age, culture, religion, income, and health on the attitude of women towards family planning.

Research Questions

Various problems were identified in dealing with this research topic, and research questions were drawn. They are:

  1. Does education influence the attitude of women towards family planning?
  2. Does the health of women influence the attitude women towards family planning?
  3. Does culture influence the attitude of women towards family planning?
  4. Does income influence the attitude of women towards family planning?
  5. Does the age of women influence their attitude towards family planning?
  6. Does religion influence the attitude of women towards family planning?

Significance of the Study

This research will be of benefit to women and society at large. They will get a lot from the facts in this project work again. It is envisaged that this research work will further assist the growth, development, expansion, and awareness of family planning and its importance to society.

To also make recommendations that will alleviate the identified mistaken notions that affect the practice of family planning.

Delimitation of the Study

This study is limited to the women in the Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. It does not intend to judge the efficiency of family planning but to find out what influences the attitude of women towards family planning. It does not cover the treatment of side effects or failures of the methods.

Definition of Terms

Family Planning: This implies the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their birth.

Contraception: Method and practice of preventing conception is the fertilization of an ovum.

Menstruation: The monthly elimination of the blood-filled lining of the uterus (womb), which takes about four to five days, depending on individual physiology.

Ovulation: The release of ripe egg cells from the ovary about once a month.

Vasectomy: Cutting of the vassal ferns through which the sperms reach the penis so that they are not ejaculated.

Tubal Ligation: Also known as having your tubes tied – is a kind of surgery that will keep you from ever getting pregnant.

References

Barnett B, Stein J (2001). Women’s voices, women’s lives: The impact of family planning. North Carolina, The women’s studies project.

Bosveld W (1998). Explaining country variation infertility: The theoretical link between individual behavior and social context. Amsterdan, Post doctorate Onder-Zoekersopleiding Demography (Nethur- Demography Paper No.41), p. 17.

Diaz M, Jasis MI, Pachauiri S, Pine RN, MI, Ruminjo J, Steele C, Tabbutt Henry J, Widyantoro NS (1999). Informed choice in International Family Planning Service Delivery. Strategies for the 21 st Century. New York, AVSC International, 22p.

Dixon-Mueller R (1993). Population Policy and Women’s right: Transforming reproductive choice. Westport, Connecticut Praeger. 300p.

Dixon-Muller R (1999). Gender inequalities and reproductive health: Changing priorities in an era of social transformation and globalization. Belgium, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (Policy and Research Paper No.16).