The right to a planned parenthood: A qualitative study of NGOs’ work to empower women’s reproductive choice in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Abstract: Brazil is a country where the average births per woman has dropped considerably in the last 60 years- from 6.3 to 1.7. However, there are large inequalities among the people in Brazil and many still lack access to education and resources for family planning. The government recognizes family planning and contraception as a fundamental human right, but still the services do not reach everyone in the society. Non-government organizations operate in Brazil to empower women in their reproductive choices. The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the processes that could enhance empowerment and what can constitute obstacles in achieving empowerment in the local context of Rio de Janeiro, when it comes to family planning and contraceptive use. The collected data consists of 5 semi-structured on-site interviews with staff from two NGOs in Rio de Janeiro, Instituto Dara and Nosso Instituto. The data is subject to a thematic analysis. Inspiration from feminist theory and Naila Kabeer’s empowerment framework based on three interrelated dimensions; resources, agency and achievements is used to analyze the result from the interviews. The results show how women before participating in the organization's projects, lack both knowledge about different options to begin with, and face further obstacles in accessing different contraceptive methods. In the empirical material the aspect of ‘decision making’ agency does not seem to constitute defining parameters in making and acting on reproductive choices. Empowerment shows in the narratives of the NGOs work, mainly in the aspect of enhancing both material and social resources through lectures and offering different contraceptive methods for the women.

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