Although an association between gender equality and contraceptive use has been confirmed among adult samples, few studies have explored this relationship among adolescents. An examination of whether adolescents’ contraceptive use is more prevalent in countries with higher levels of gender equality is needed to fill this gap.
Nationally representative data from 33 countries that participated in the 2013–2014 Health Behaviour in School‐Aged Children study and country‐level measures of gender equality—using the 2014 Global Gender Gap Index—were analyzed. Multilevel multinomial logistic regression analyses were employed to assess associations between gender equality and contraceptive use (condom only, pill only and dual methods) at last intercourse as reported by 4,071 females and 4,110 males aged 14–16.
Increasing gender equality was positively associated with contraceptive use among both males and females. For every 0.1‐point increase on the equality scale, the likelihood of condom use at last intercourse rose (odds ratio, 2.1 for females), as did the likelihood of pill use (6.5 and 9.6, respectively, for males and females) and dual method use (2.1 and 5.6, respectively). Associations with pill use and dual use remained significant after national wealth and income inequality were controlled for. Overall, associations were stronger for females than for males.
More research is needed to identify potential causal pathways and mechanisms through which gender equality and adolescents’ contraceptive use may influence one another.
Margaretha de Looze is assistant professor, Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Aubrey S. Madkour is associate professor, Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans. Tim Huijts is researcher, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market, School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands. Nathalie Moreau is researcher, Service d’Information Promotion Education Santé, School of Public Health, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium. Candace Currie is professor, Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, WHO Collaborating Centre for International Child and Adolescent Health Policy, School of Medicine, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland.