Home Institution

Washington University St. Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression


Objective: The objectives of this project were three-fold:

1. How do men and women in the urban area of Kumasi come to understand the major forms of contraception available in Ghana?

2.Are there significant differences in the ways that men and women come to understand contraceptive methods, and are these differences influenced by region, religious affiliation, age, and socioeconomic level?

3. How are these understandings either reinforced, shifted, or broken down by the Ghanaian government’s reproductive health efforts, the work of NGO’s focused on family planning, religious beliefs, and social relationships?

Methodology: During the 30 day long research period I conducted fieldwork in various parts of Kumasi, including the KNUST campus and the neighboring areas Ayudase and Anwomaso, with the help of three research assistants who were peer educators at PPAG’s Young and Wise center on the KNUST campus. I interviewed 50 participants (25 men/25 women), and in selecting these individuals I specifically looked for individuals from a wide variety of age, religious, and educational backgrounds. Each participant agreed to answer a series of twenty questions about their understanding and feelings towards contraceptive use and family planning, as well as the influences of friends, media campaigns, and family upon these views.

Findings: My research indicated that a wide variety of factors plays a role in an individuals’ understanding of contraception, regardless of gender. With the exception of educational level (which tended to correspond with an increase individuals’ knowledge of contraceptive methods), very few of the factors associated with contraceptive understanding (religious affiliation, socioeconomic level, etc.) seemed to play a solitary role in determining one’s contraceptive views. In actuality, most views were shaped from a variety of life experiences that either reinforced or broke down the individuals’ initial approach towards contraceptives.

Conclusion: Though on a macroscopic level it was difficult to isolate specific gendered differences between the ways that men and women tend to understand contraception, individually, it became clear that the social milieu surrounding an individual plays a large role in his or her views on contraceptive use, and that often this social group is single-gendered. Men’s views tend to be reinforced by other men, and women’s views are reinforced by other women. Both men and women seemed to believe that their own gender was forced to bear the most responsibility in regards to contraception, though this view was much more prevalent in women than men. Finally, both men and women recognized that many of their views and those of the people they knew were based upon rumors and anecdotes, and many offered additional education both in and outside of the school as a means for improving overall understandings of contraceptives across genders.


Community-Based Learning | Community-Based Research | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Politics and Social Change


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