The vast majority of literature on the use of contraception focuses on its frequently documented connection to socioeconomic development. Thus, contraception has become a favored programmatic element of western organizations that deliver it to women in the developing world. I analyze discourse from transnational organizations that advocate for women’s use of birth control in the developing world, as well as deliver contraceptive services themselves, in order to uncover the dominance of liberal, capitalist assumptions therein. A primary consequence of this discourse is the reconstruction of colonial relations between the global north and global south. My alternative analysis, informed by a variety of feminist theories, suggests the use of contraception must be viewed as women’s assertion of autonomy over their reproduction, and therefore as an act of resistance in a patriarchal society. Informed by postcolonial feminist theory, along with insights of other feminist theories which have enriched and evolved postcolonial feminist thought, I argue that discourse around contraceptive use in the developing world must construct women as active subjects and include a discussion of women’s individual agency to resist cultural norms in the choice to use contraception.



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