What influences a woman’s decision to access contraception in Timor-Leste? Perceptions from Timorese women and men Academic Article uri icon


  • Timor-Leste's Maternal Mortality Ratio remains one of the highest in Asia. There is ample evidence that maternal deaths may be reduced substantially through the provision of good-quality modern methods of contraception. Many Timorese women wish to stop or delay having children. However, even when health services make contraception available, it does not mean that people will use it. Collaborating with Marie Stopes Timor-Leste, this qualitative research project used decolonising methodology to explore perceived influences contributing to contraceptive choices, and gain insight into how women's decisions to access contraception in Timor-Leste occur. Over two fieldwork periods (2013 and 2015), we used focus group discussions and structured interviews to speak with 68 women and 80 men, aged 18-49 years, across four districts of Timor-Leste. Findings demonstrate that the decision to access contraception is often contentious and complicated. These tensions echo concerns and ambiguities contained within global and national reproductive health policy. Overwhelmingly, participants emphasised that despite her wishes, a woman can only rarely exercise her right to access contraception freely and independently. She is most often constrained by family, cultural, traditional and educational influences.

publication date

  • 2018