There are few events more consequential to the lives of men and women than those tied to reproduction. In virtually all societies, sexual behavior and the act of having children are important markers and determinants of social status, meaning that one’s ability to shape those experiences is vitally important. The right of individuals to freely make decisions about their reproductive lives has been a cornerstone of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) programming since at least the 1994 United Nations Conference of Population and Development.
With funding from USAID and in partnership with MEASURE Evaluation, ICRW has developed a conceptual framework for reproductive empowerment to help address these concerns. The goal of developing this framework is to provide conceptual clarity around what reproductive empowerment means, which will allow for the development of better ways to measure it. This, in turn, will provide the evidence needed to develop more effective programs that enhance reproductive empowerment and improve the lives of women, men and their families.
In this brief, we define reproductive empowerment and present a conceptual framework of reproductive empowerment, based on an extensive literature review and consultations with experts in the fields of sexual and reproductive health, rights-based family planning and women’s empowerment. As a part of this process, a more extensive background white paper was developed, including a review of existing empowerment measures in the reproductive realm, which this brief is based on. To access the background white paper, click here.