The Influence of Gender Role and Women's Empowerment on Couples' Fertility Experiences in Urban Society of Mashhad, Iran

Type Journal Article - Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health
Title The Influence of Gender Role and Women's Empowerment on Couples' Fertility Experiences in Urban Society of Mashhad, Iran
Volume 2
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 170-179
Background & aim: Iran has experienced a great variation in women's status in
recent years. There is a little knowledge on how and why advancing gender
equality and equity and the empowerment of women play a role in recent fertility
reduction in the country. This study was conducted to gain insight into the role of
gender beliefs and women's empowerment in the couples 'experiences of fertility
in Mashhad, Iran in 2011-2012.
Methods: In this exploratory qualitative study in-depth interviews were conducted
with 54 purposefully selected eligible male and female participants and some key
informants who lived in urban society of Mashhad. Data was collected until
saturation was happened and analyzed adopting conventional content analysis
approach through giving analytical codes and identification of categories using
MAXqda software. Study rigor verified via prolonged engagement, thick description
and validation of anlysis through member check.
Results: Findings from data analysis demonstrated three major categories about
the influence of women’s empowerment and gender role on fertility experiences
including: 1) The couple’s understanding of gender roles 2) Women’s
empowerment and changing gender roles 3) Couple’s interactions in
complementary or parallel roles and 4) Fulfillment of fertility goals based on role
division. Some aspects of couples' interaction including equal roles in fertility
decisions, choosing and using best fit family planning method and participative
child care influenced couples' fertility behavior. Women’s empowerment together
with balanced gender role in the family resulted in success in attaining couple’s
fertility desire.
Conclusion: Managing fertility behaviors needs to understand the roles of spouses
in their mutual interaction in fertility decision making and related behaviors.
Imbalanced gender role in family acts as an obstacle to reach the fertility goals and
leads to lower than desired fertility. Reproductive health policy makers and family
planning counselors could apply the findings of this study in order to publicize
proper fertility behaviors through making the couples aware of the risks of gender
role imbalance.

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