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What The Declining Birth Rates Say About Women

My body, my choice

BY Agnes Amondi

Jan 23, 2023, 03:03 PM

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The Kenyan woman is having fewer children and to be precise, 3.4 on average in her lifetime. In the urban areas, households are becoming smaller while in the rural, the opposite is happening.

That’s not quite a surprise as data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicate that women in urban areas are more likely to have received a quality education and thus make better decisions regarding their reproductive health

We are not insinuating that all women in rural areas make poor judgements and that all women in urban areas make sound decisions. There is nuance. Be that as it may, I am one person who is happy with these findings. 

It means that we are on the right track in so far as perceptions about who a woman is and what she can do are concerned. Allow me to share some of the things that jump out from the data.


One of the biggest reasons for the decreasing rates of fertility is education. For a long time now, there has been a push to have girls’ education prioritised as previously, families sent boys to school and they were made to sit at home taking care of the home.

Women were only good for reproduction and marriage while boys were given a chance to go out in the world and carve out a better life for themselves. An educated woman will make better decisions for herself. 

In fact, the study shows that four in every ten teenagers who get pregnant don’t have an education and that figure shrinks to five per cent if they are educated up to the secondary level.

As such, women get a chance to decide what they want to do with their lives as opposed to having someone else decide how their future will be.

Family Planning 

Gone are the days when a woman would be expected by society to produce six, seven or more kids because her value was pegged on how much she could reproduce. 

Most of the time, some of these women didn’t have the capacity to take care of their children as they weren't allowed to go out of their homes to work. Instead of their children being a blessing, they turned out to be a burden.

We’ve all heard cases where some children were educated and others were not because of a lack of resources. 

Generally, I find that smaller families are more manageable, especially at a time when women spend more time away from home, the cost of living is high and thus spending on one, two or three children, while it can still be a stretch, it’s not as taxing as when you have six or seven.

Better Health Outcomes

 A high fertility rate leads to a high mortality rate as some children lack access to proper healthcare. One, the healthcare system might be stretched and secondly, some of these families will not be able to foot the medical costs associated with newborn children. Although KNBS has not captured data on the relationship between decreased fertility and women’s health, it bodes well for women. 

Women Own Their Reproductive Health 

For a long time, society has controlled women’s reproductive health and how they should use it. When she gives birth, people expect them to have more and more children - quite frankly, we still experience this - what kind of gender she should have and so many other things that were meant to make her not think about herself. 

Today with family planning methods, women can regulate the number of kids they have. They are educated enough to know the risks of early pregnancies and the impact of having children on their lives. 

For those who don’t want to have children, well, there are still a lot of stigmas associated with them but with the ability to decide, things might work out for them one day.