Women and girls are among the more vulnerable groups in many communities as seen in their lower levels of education and poorer health. Yet the health of women and children is important to the future well-being of any community. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Population and Poverty Research Initiative (PopPov), together with four European research councils, has sponsored research into how investments in women’s and children’s health contribute to economic development. The research focuses on sub-Saharan Africa with an emphasis on including researchers and institutions from the continent as partners. One of the aims is to generate research findings that could be translated into program and policy recommendations for near-term use.
Results of this initiative and other research show that empowering women with the information and tools necessary to ensure their health contributes to the economic well-being of individual households and the next generation. This brief focuses on the PopPov research conducted in the East Africa region, with relevant information and statistics from other studies included as appropriate. The research from East Africa has examined access to appropriate reproductive health care services that enable safe pregnancy and childbirth, and that provide couples with the best chance of having healthy children and resilient households. The research has also explored women’s desired versus actual family size. Women’s reproductive health and family size have economic implications for households and ultimately for national economic growth.