Working women are more likely to use modern contraception, according to detailed results from the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey 2019-21 released by the Department of Health and Family Welfare.
A brief fact sheet was published in November last year. The data indicates that 66.3% of working women use a modern contraceptive method, compared to 53.4% of non-working women.
The results also show that contraceptive use increases in communities and regions that have experienced more socioeconomic progress. Data shows that “unmet need for family planning methods” is highest in the lowest wealth quintile (11.4%) and lowest in the highest wealth quintile (8.6%). ). Modern contraceptive use also increases with income, rising from 50.7% of women in the lowest wealth quintile to 58.7% of women in the highest wealth quintile.
“These data add to the mountain of evidence that proves that development is the best contraceptive,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India. “While there is much to celebrate in the NFHS-5 data, our focus now should be on reaching the unreached. We need to do more for marginalized sections of society, who may be disadvantaged based on class, identity or geography.
The data showed that knowledge of contraceptive methods is almost universal in India – over 99% of currently married women and men aged 15-49 know at least one modern method of contraception. However, the use of modern contraceptives for family planning was only 56.4%.
“It is concerning that female sterilization remains the most popular method of contraception, which shows that the responsibility for family planning continues to rest with women. We need to increase the number of birth spacing methods in the public health system, given that we have a large population of young people of childbearing age, which contributes 70% of our population dynamics,” Muttreja said.
While the nationwide numbers are encouraging, we must remember that there are large inter-regional variations. Five states still have not reached a replacement level of fertility of 2.1 – the rate at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next. These states are Bihar (2.98), Meghalaya (2.91)), Uttar Pradesh (2.35), Jharkhand (2.26) and Manipur (2.17).
“Given the country’s enormous population size and profound demographic diversity, context-specific policies and programs will be needed for states going through different stages of demographic transition,” Muttreja said. “The country must prioritize investments in the provision of quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, education, skills building and gender equality initiatives for the young population. Our experience shows that targeted social and behavior change communication campaigns can address social norms, harmful practices, and promote male engagement in family planning.