Home Institution

Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Mali: Health, Gender, and Community Empowerment


The global community continues to increase at alarming rates. October 2011 marked the world’s population at a record high of 7 billion people, and counting. This population growth is linked to many complex factors, an important one of which is maternal health. The World Bank reports that over 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, more than half of which occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa.[1] The term “maternal health” refers to the health of women before, during, and after pregnancy. A crucial factor in maternal health is contraception, as its use allows women to avoid or space pregnancies, effectively empowering women to possess more control over their own lives.

Mali is a landlocked West African country with an estimated population of 14.5 million, the majority of which live in rural areas. The country also has one of the world’s highest infant & maternal mortality rates: 830 women die per every 100,000 births, and 109 infants die per every 1,000 births, 10th and 3rd highest global rates, respectively. Many causes help explain this high number of deaths, but one in particular is the issue of contraception. It’s a precarious one in many societies, for both cultural and financial reasons. Malian society presents such a problem. Malian society is patriarchal; the culture delegates authority to men and elder females, and younger women have little autonomy over their bodies, mobility, and finances.[2] In such a culture, females obtaining contraception is often very difficult, and looked down upon.

[1] "Data." The World Bank. The World Bank, 2012. Web. 22 May 2012. <http://data.worldbank.org/>.

[2] Barnett, Barbara, Mamadou Konate, et al. "The Impact of Family Planning on Women's Lives: Findings from the Women's Studies' Project in Mali and Zimbabwe." African Journal of Reproductive Health. 3.1 (1999): 27-38. Web. 23 May. 2012. Page 29


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Maternal and Child Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


Article Location