Women In Ghana Pay Dearly For Not Having Children

By Jasmine Fledderjohann

The number of children a woman of reproductive age bears has been declining globally. Yet childbearing expectations in some parts of Africa remain high. In Ghana, for example, the total fertility rate – the average number of children expected per woman over a lifetime – stands at 4.2.


Women in Ghana are under tremendous pressure to have children. Childbearing is the primary goal of marriage, and women are expected to begin having children shortly after they’ve married.

Children provide emotional fulfilment and social status, and can contribute to the household economy by helping with domestic and subsistence activities. As parents age, children become an important source of old age support.

As a result of the high value of children, the social consequences of infertility can be severe. For example, infertile women often face considerable stigma, mental distress, and potential exposure to domestic violence.

Gossip and social stigma can also arise. When members of the community see that a woman has not become pregnant after an expected period of time, rumours of infertility may begin.

About one in five couples in Ghana have difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.

Previous research has shown that women often report feeling that their relationships are at risk due to their infertility. The considerable pressure women are under to have children is cited as a key reason.

To test this suggested link between infertility and relationship breakdown, I analysed data collected over a six year period. The data were collected from 1,364 Ghanaian women living in six communities in the Western, Central, and Greater Accra regions. Women were asked a range of questions about factors including their contraceptive use, pregnancy histories, and current relationship status.

Fertility and social pressure

The study looked at the relationship between infertility and the stability of romantic partnerships.

I categorised infertility in two ways:

biomedical infertility – women failing to become pregnant after two or more years of unprotected intercourse, and

self-reported infertility – women reporting that either it takes them a long time to become pregnant or that it is not possible for them to become pregnant at all.

I found that a woman’s ability to conceive has a powerful effect on whether the relationship with her partner will survive. Women who had difficulties conceiving faced a much greater risk of their relationships ending.

Interestingly, this was only the case when I looked at self-reported infertility. Biomedical infertility was not linked to a greater risk of the relationship ending.

Source: allafrica.com

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One Response to Women In Ghana Pay Dearly For Not Having Children

  1. Oluwatosino March 31, 2017 at 4:09 am

    Waoh….. This is not fair on the women oooo. Are the women God ni…. And looking from the medical point of view, the problem can also be from the husband, so I wonder why women are blame all the time for infertility when the problem is at times from the husband’s side….. So annoying. May God have mercy on the women and make each and everyone of us experience fruitfulness in our marriage ijn.


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