•Among working, married women, 32 per cent make the decision alone but 58 per cent involve their husbands, while in 10 per cent, the husband makes the decision for the wife.
•This practice is most prevalent in Nairobi, Meru, Nyandarua, Embu, Machakos, Kirinyaga, Samburu, Kiambu, Nyamira and is highest in Turkana.
A third of married women who use contraception do so without involving their husbands, the State of Kenya Population report 2021 says.
The use of contraception is more prevalent among working women, mostly around Nairobi and Mt Kenya counties, and remote areas such as Turkana and Samburu.
The report does not explain why. Some past studies suggest that some women go solo because they find it difficult to discuss family planning with their spouses without threatening the husband's sense of control.
Among non-working women, 29 per cent make decisions on contraception alone while 60 per cent make a joint decision with their spouses. In 11 per cent of families, it is the husband who makes the decision.
For working, married women, 32 per cent make the decision alone but 58 per cent involve their husbands, while in 10 per cent, the husband makes the decision for the wife.
“Implementation of policies and programmes on family planning should focus their efforts on encouraging more couples to enhance their communication and joint decision-making on the use of contraception,” the report says.
It was produced by the National Council for Population and Development, a government agency under the National Treasury.
The report mostly relies on data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey.
In some parts of Kenya, married women say they use contraception secretly because their husbands are opposed to family planning.
The report says there is a need for more studies on why such a high number of Kenyan married women do not involve their husbands in family planning decisions.
“This should be done in order to bring out the process involved in joint decision making among couples, factors that lead some women to make the decisions alone and why some men make these decisions on behalf of their wives,” the report says.
This practice is most prevalent in Nairobi, Meru, Nyandarua, Embu, Machakos, Kirinyaga, Samburu, Kiambu, Nyamira counties and is highest in Turkana county.
A husband's inadequate financial support of his children might also justify secret contraceptive use, some past reports have suggested.
For the first time, the State of Kenya Population report focused on the power of women to make choices about their bodies.
“It has been shown that when women are able to make decisions on healthcare and contraceptive use, their families are more likely to be more healthy and productive,” Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, whose office contributed to the report said.
The report says at 10 per cent, the share of women who have contraception use decided by their husbands is too high.
“Counties where husbands make decisions on behalf of their wives should be given more attention,” the report says.
The worst affected are West Pokot, Marsabit, Kitui, Bomet, Isiolo, Garissa, Mombasa, Migori, Nandi and Kwale in that order.
Kenya appears to be better compared to the global situation where nearly half of women in 57 developing countries have no right to decide whether to use contraception, according to UNFPA's 2021 flagship State of World Population report, released in April this year.
Edited by P.O