Senior Politics Major and Posse Scholar Anna Alikhani received an Honorable Mention from the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) for the poster she submitted to their Posters on the Hill session. This honor indicates that Anna's work was among the top 10% of the more than 600 submissions received from undergraduate researchers across the U.S. in every discipline imaginable. The submission, entitled "Reproductive Health Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa: A look at five factors and its impact on policies," was based on research Anna has undertaken in collaboration with Professor Amy Patterson as well as Visiting Professor and Brown Foundation Fellow Canon Gideon Byamugisha. The work studied the impact of religious majorities, percent of women in government, donor aid programs, democracy and female literacy rates on reproductive health policies, specifically contraceptive distribution, in Africa (the complete abstract is provided below).
Founded in 1978, CUR is a grassroots national organization whose mission is to support and promote high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. Comprising both dues-paying individual and institutional members, CUR represents over 900 colleges and universities. Begun in 1997, Posters on the Hill has been held in Washington, D.C. each spring as part of an ongoing effort to educate Congress about the value of the scholarship being done by undergraduate researchers across the nation. Originally, a science only event, Posters on the Hill has grown to include all disciplines in recent years, growth that parallels changes on many campuses including Sewanee's. Student presenters spend the day both meeting their Congressional representatives, as well as their staff, and presenting the results of their work as a poster at sessions attend by members of Congress and various federal agencies in an effort to help ensure that sufficient federal support is maintained for this important work.
Abstract: Over the last two decades, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have implemented programs to improve the overall well being of their citizens. While individual countries have observed significant strides in improving education and eradicating hunger and disease, access to reproductive health education and services have not been accorded equal priority. My research examines the impact of religious majorities, percent of women in government, donor aid programs, democracy, and female literacy rates on contraceptive prevalence in Africa. This research involved a large-N study of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to determine the correlation between the contraceptive prevalence percentage and the five factors. The major finding of a bi-variable and multi-variable analysis indicated that democracy and female literacy rates are large determinants of contraception availability, while religion, donors, and women in government do not have statistically significant effects. Findings were then applied to the case studies of Nigeria and Senegal to helped elucidate the ways that the five factors shape contraception prevalence. This research suggests that to improve reproductive health access, African countries must focus on improving democracy and female literacy rates.