HARARE – At least 211 000 women in Zimbabwe would like to postpone child-bearing but are not using contraceptives while one in 10 women die every day as a result of pregnancy-related complications, according to the United Nations.
Speaking during a media sensitisation workshop on sexual reproductive health in Bulawayo last week, Basile Tambanashe, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative, said there were many reasons why women were not using contraceptives.
“There are many reasons why women are not taking contraceptives but I believe one of them is that they are not sufficiently empowered to make their own decisions on matters of sexual reproductive health,” Tambanashe said.
“This is why we are trying to empower them so that they will be able to make such decisions.”
Nevanji Madanire, the Standard newspaper editor, argued that some women shied away from taking contraceptives for security reasons in a harsh economic climate where at least 60 percent of the population is said to be poor.
“Sex is being abused as security in marriage and some women think that having children is they only way they can keep the man,” Madanhire said.
The available contraceptives in Zimbabwe include but are not limited to the pill, which is taken orally as a short-term homornal method for preventing pregnancy.
It usually costs $1 in pharmacies across the country.
Depo-Provera, an injectable which prevents pregnancy for up to three months, costs $3 at most pharmacies while implants like Jadelle and IUCD (loop) cost between $5 and $10 in public health institutions.
These contraceptives however, do not protect one against sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/Aids.
Women rights activists say patriarchy is to blame for the unfortunate situation as mostly married women do not have a say on how many children they should have in a marriage setup.
Religion also plays a key role as some religions discourage women from taking contraceptives.
“We are currently engaging religious groups which we are sensitising on the issue of contraceptives,” Tambanashe said.