What's Religion got to do with it? Islam and Fertility in Senegal and Cameroon
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Religion has been proven to influence a wide range of individual outcomes, including gender-specific health experiences such as fertility. This study examines the role of religion in women’s decision-making, both broadly and with a special focus on reproductive decisions. Quantitative analysis of Cameroon (2004) and Senegal’s (2005) Demographic Health Surveys is combined with information from qualitative focus group discussions that were held in each country in 2011. These analyses were used to investigate 1) whether Muslim women have the same level of control over household decision-making as their non-Muslim counterparts; 2) whether the extent of Muslim women’s participation in key household decision-making differ from their participation in reproductive decisions; 3) whether rates of contraceptive use and participation in reproductive decision-making differ between Muslims and non-Muslims; and 4) how Muslim women and men view the influences and prescriptions of religion on the practice of family planning. Cameroon and Senegal serve as fruitful locals to investigate these questions, as the former represents a more pluralistic society while the latter is predominantly Muslim. Findings suggest that religion continues to mediate women’s relative control in different arenas of household decision-making, including family planning. Given international concern over achieving reproductive health, crystallized in Millennium Development Goal 5, future interventions will need to be sensitive to the role of religion.
dissertation or thesis