Negotiating reproduction: Transforming familial relationships and reproductive agency of women in central Punjab, Pakistan
This paper aims at describing how women from two generations negotiated their reproduction with their husbands and mothers-in-law during various stages of their fertility careers. In light of these descriptions, the paper also aims to assess how far the differences between two generations suggest that there has been a change in the quality of conjugal relationships and intergenerational relationships- particularly between young women and their mothers-in-law.
The paper utilises 75 semi-structured interviews with young women, their mothers, mothers-in-laws and husbands from Sargodha (Punjab) to suggest that young women as compared to their mothers and mothers-in-laws, show more agentic behaviour during their fertility careers; not only by taking initiatives in communicating about their reproductive desires with their husbands but also by being consciously and actively involved in decisions regarding contraceptive use and abortion. The data also suggest that there has been a positive change in the quality of conjugal relationships as well as the relationship between the daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, which now allow a larger space for young women to manoeuvre their reproductive careers and decisions about contraception and abortion*. Increasing consideration of husbands with regard to their wives health and cooperation between the couple for birth spacing were particularly contributing to this change, besides showing the role of emotions and quality of relationships play on women’s reproductive agency in Pakistan.
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