Malawi women 'under lots of pressure to have lots of children'

Women in Malawi are under intense pressure to give birth to lots of children, the country's president has said.

According to Joyce Banda, females often have up to eight children even though they cannot afford to look after them, Sky News reports.

However, she said these women believe "children mean wealth". Ms Banda has therefore insisted a "holistic approach" to the problem needs to be taken to enable females to make better decisions.

Ms Banda argued women need to be empowered and given the "economic freedom" that lets them choose and decide for themselves how big their family should be.

This, she said, means improving family planning and access to contraception is not the only way to address this problem.

Action on the issue could have a considerable impact on women's health in Malawi, since the country has a very high maternal mortality rate.

According to the World Health Organization, 6.2 per cent of the nation's gross domestic product went towards health in 2009.
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