BEYOND THE MOTHERHOOD MANDATE: EXAMINING THE FACTORS THAT SHAPE THE SELF-PERCEPTIONS OF INVOLUNTARY CHILDLESS WOMEN
Involuntary childlessness adversely affects the lives of women on a global scale, including in Pakistan. In many cultures motherhood is seen as a social obligation, central to women's roles. This study conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews with 19 childless women to examine the cultural, societal, and individual factors that shape their self-perceptions. The findings revealed that cultural norms and social attitudes significantly influenced how childless women perceive themselves coped with these cultural and relational pressures. The interviewees experienced social pressure, stigma, and discrimination from family and community, particularly in-laws and husbands, negatively impacting their self-esteem. Additionally, values, religiosity, and economic conditions further contribute to how women perceive themselves and their situation, with some experiencing guilt, shame, and mental health challenges. This study contributes to a deeper understanding of the factors that shape the self-perceptions of involuntary childless women, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach that considers cultural, societal, and individual factors in addressing this issue in the context of the SDGs, specifically Goal 5: Gender Equality, and Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being
Keywords: Infertility, Involuntary childlessness, Pakistani women, Stigmatization, Non-parenthood.
Copyright (c) 2023 Fizza Fatima, Rahla Rahat , Fouzia Sadaf
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