Sexual autonomy is an inalienable human right to protect and maintain an informed decision over one’s body, sexuality, and sexual experience. With the increased attention to women’s empowerment and gender equality all over the world, it is surprising that previous research has overlooked the relationship between women’s sexual autonomy and short birth intervals. This study examined the association between women’s sexual autonomy and short birth intervals in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Data were sourced from the Demographic and Health Surveys of 29 sub-Saharan African countries conducted from 2010 to 2019. A total of 222,940 women were included in this study. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the association between sexual autonomy and short birth interval. The results were presented as adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and significance level was set at p < .05. The overall proportions of sexual autonomy and short birth interval among women in SSA were 75.1% and 13.3%, respectively. Women who reported having sexual autonomy had lower odds of short birth interval [aOR = 0.94; CI = 0.91, 0.96]. The likelihood of short birth interval among women increased with increasing maternal and partner’s age but reduced with increasing level of education and wealth index. Given that short birth intervals could have negative maternal and child health outcomes, public health authorities in sub-Saharan African countries should endeavor to promote health interventions and social programs to empower women with low sexual autonomy.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
- Global health
- Sexual autonomy
- Short birth interval
- Sub-Saharan Africa