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Socio-cultural Constraints and Women’s Decision-making Power Regarding Reproductive Behaviour

Syed Ali () and Mehboob Sultan
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Mehboob Sultan: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, and National Institute of Population Studies, Islamabad.

The Pakistan Development Review, 1999, vol. 38, issue 4, 689-696

Abstract: In a previous study [Ali, Siyal and Sultan (1995)], we observed a big gap between behaviour and desires. Only 35 percent women had the number of children that they had desired. Whereas, a very large number of women had more children than their stated ideal number of children. The same data set also showed that a majority of women (54 percent) either wanted to stop having children or wanted to wait at least two years before having another child [Ali and Rukanuddin (1992)]. In practice, all of these women were not protected; instead only 12 percent were practising contraception [Shah and Ali (1992)]. An argument was put forward that, had these women been empowered to decide about the number of children to be born, the scenario would have been different and small family size norms would have prevailed. However, the finding of that study revealed that generally, the women who were considered to be empowered were actually constrained to exercise fertility control behaviour. It was hypothesised that socio-cultural influences including those of husbands, in-laws and other family members impelled women to become incapacitated. In the present study, an effort has been made to investigate and identify factors that influence women’s decision making about reproductive behaviour. Furthermore, an attempt to measure the extent of these influences has been made.

Date: 1999
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