Understanding Family Planning in San Ignacio, Belize

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Charis R. Davidson, MPH
Deborah L. Billings, PhD
Daniela B. Friedman, PhD


This study focuses on women’s decisions and experiences related to family planning in San Ignacio, Belize. The authors sought to identify family planning resources available in San Ignacio, as well as barriers to accessing these resources. Furthermore, this study explored how local barriers affected the use of contraception in San Ignacio. The first author traveled to San Ignacio and carried out four semi-structured interviews and one focus group with local women. She also conducted nine semi-structured interviews with community leaders. Women discussed their own knowledge and use of contraceptive methods, barriers to contraceptive use, the value of planned pregnancies and their pregnancy experiences. Community leaders reported that contraceptive methods were available but also admitted to the existence of perceived barriers to contraceptive use.

Women stated that planned pregnancies were desirable, but often unachievable because of religious beliefs, cultural norms, the opposition of family members, lack of knowledge of contraceptive methods and male partners seeking control over women. Community leaders reported that men are often unsupportive of contraceptive use and that religious groups often seek to discourage contraceptive use. Both women and community leaders stated that in San Ignacio, women are expected to have families and that local religious groups discourage the use of contraception.

Use of contraceptives among women in San Ignacio is thus not solely determined by the availability of contraceptives. Organizations that aim to promote family planning must implement multilevel initiatives that address the needs, desires and perspectives of community members, promote healthy relationships and challenge gender inequitable social norms.

Article Details

family planning, Belize, contraception
Field Notes
How to Cite
Davidson, C. R., Billings, D. L., & Friedman, D. B. (2013). Understanding Family Planning in San Ignacio, Belize. The Columbia University Journal of Global Health, 3(1), 25–31. https://doi.org/10.7916/thejgh.v3i1.5259