Academic journal article Journal of Gender and Social Issues

Impact of Education on Reproductive Decision Making among Working and Non Working Married Women

Academic journal article Journal of Gender and Social Issues

Impact of Education on Reproductive Decision Making among Working and Non Working Married Women

Article excerpt

Byline: Ms. Shahla Tabassum and Ms. Sahira Zaman

Abstract

The present study aimed at investigating the impact of education, income, age at marriage and duration of marriage on reproductive decision making power of working and non working married women in the area of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in Pakistan. 192 working and non working educated and less educated women (Educated = Graduation and above, less educated = up to matriculation) were included in the study. Purposive sampling technique was used to collect data. It was assumed that educated women will have more decision making power, working women will also exert more decision making reproductive power as compare to non working women. Results indicate that educated women have more reproductive decision making power as compare to less educated women and working women also have more reproductive decision making power as compare to non working women.

Results also indicate that less age is related with less decision making power in reproductive sphere and more duration of marriage is also predictor of less decision making in reproductive sphere of a women's life. Therefore education and employment are the basic indicators of women empowerment and should be a matter of attention in policy making.

Introduction

The ability of women to control their own reproduction is the necessary freedom that creates other freedoms. Low fertility increases women's ability to gain status in other areas, and enhancement of women's status leads to low fertility. Education is a prime component in this equation. Educated women are more likely to be decision makers in the size of their families and spacing of their children (Kate and Suzanne, 1998). Feminists believe that a fundamental source of women's oppression is male domination of females' bodies through andocentric marriage, denial of women's reproductive rights and sexual violence. At the UN International Human Rights Conference, it was acknowledged that family planning is a human right that couples should be able to freely decide how many children they want and the spacing between those children (Dixon, 1993). The reality is different, majority of women worldwide do not have these reproductive freedom (Morgan, 1996).

In many countries, women's bodies are viewed as the property of their husbands who get to make decisions regarding the number and spacing between the children (Jacobson, 1992). Historically women's inability to prevent pregnancy gave rise to a gender based division of labor and created an economic dependence on men that gave men greater power over women (Burn, 2000).

Lane (1994) argues that women's reproductive health includes family planning, sexually transmitted diseases, maternal mortality, and child survival. Zurayk, Younis, and Khattab (1994) defined women's reproductive health as the ability of women to survive the reproductive years and beyond with reproductive choice, dignity, and successful childbearing, and to be free from gynecological diseases and risks.

Women's reproductive rights include the right to determine the starting, spacing, and terminating of pregnancy or births (Cook 1993; Dixon-Mueller 1993; Correa and Petchesky 1994).

Dyson and Moore (1983) suggested that women's autonomy is important for fertility to fall. This conclusion is buttressed by the several studies which do indeed find that educated women have more freedom in decision-making and action on a range of domestic and extra-domestic matters (Basu, 1992 and Jejeebhoy, 1995). It is the woman's own education that is considered important in most fertility studies. The impact of women's education on fertility is usually stronger than that of men's education or household socio-economic characteristics.

In addition to the importance of female education, employment and income are closely linked with fertility. Shapiro and Tambashe (1994) collected data on 2,399 women of reproductive age in Kinshasa, Congo has found that women who were better educated and employed in the formal sector were most likely to use contraceptives. …

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