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 the attitudes of women towards family planning in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. Specifically, the study attempts to find out the influence of education, health, religion, culture, age of women and income on the attitudes of women towards family planning.

This research work deals with the types of contraceptive methods, importance of family planning and the benefits of family planning. The subjects were selected using simple random sampling.  A total of 100 questionnaires were administered to subjects of the target population which are the educated women randomly selected from five communities under Egor Local Government: Uselu, Uwasota, Osasogie, Evbareke, Osakpamwan. The data collected were analyzed using 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 actually plan their family towards better standard of living.

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 so as to encourage more people towards it.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Family planning as the name implies is having children by choice and not by chance; it is the process of having 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 all over the world and also applies to Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. Throughout the ages, individuals and families have tried to regulate their fertility either by using herbs, abstinence during ovulation, prolonged breast feeding and living with parent in-laws to avoid sex or polygamy.

Historically, most communities in the past used to have policies that encourage large population.  Traditionally, in Africa, the low level of economic development and heavy reliance on agriculture have brought about several factors that encourage 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 to ensure a kind of family immortality by continuity of the family name.

African women traditionally have played major roles in agricultural production, though their primary roles are that of wives and mothers having 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.  At the societal level, child bearing is therefore an important way for them to gain status through the number of children raised.

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

Women have come to see that cooking, house keeping chores combined with making a living, bearing and raising children are arduous tasks and gradually retards the health of both mother and children.  Today, many parents have realized that having a large family may bring difficulty in feeding, clothing and providing good education for them all. 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 group of elite 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 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 child bearing has gradually led to 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, International Training for Health Programme, World Health Organization, etc.

Some leaders have equally spoken of the need for family planning in different ways.  According to Delano (1990), while quoting Julius Nyerere of Tanzania in 1959, “giving birth is something in which mankind and animals are equal but rearing the young and especially educating them for many years is something which is a unique gift and responsibility of man.  It is for this reason that it is important for man to put an emphasis on 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, inspite of the fact that our forefathers believed in large families as stated earlier, birth control measures were also in use.  This manifested itself in forms of sex taboos (frowning at pre-marital sex), abstinence, wearing of magical charms and talisman made from the worm of the lioness and even the use of a child’s 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 were applicable to their circumstances at that time.  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 were much concern over fertility regulations.

The ancient knowledge was incorporated into writing of scientific doctors and was of scientific basis for contraception up to the late 17thcentury.  From this, it should be noted that contraception had a place in the days of old as a means of preserving the health of the child and mother.

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

In this study, therefore, attempts shall be made to find out what women in Egor Community understand about the concept of family planning, methods of contraception commonly practiced, specifically, 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 associated with population explosion and have equally suggested that couples cut down their family size.

Depreciating standard of living, inadequate facilities due to increase in 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

The purpose of this study is to carry out a survey on the influence of education, age, culture, religion, income and health on the attitude of women towards family planning.

Research Questions

In dealing with this research topic, various problems were identified 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 of 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 the society at large.  They will again a lot from the facts contained in this project work.  It is envisaged that this research work will further assist the growth, development, expansion and awareness of family planning and its importance to the society at large.

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 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 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 ferens through which the sperms reach the penis, so that they are not ejaculated.

Tubalization: Cutting of the female fallopian tube so that egg cells cannot enter the uterus.