Apr 222013

COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo

DaphneCardillo                                                 Power and Gender

Contrary to popular notion that fertility rate is determined by the use of contraceptives or other family planning techniques; choices in the number of children are largely dependent on power within the family.  Whoever enjoys the greatest power exerts more influence, and power is more often centered on economic contribution.

This has been revealed in recent studies in population.  As observed in underdeveloped countries, women worked mostly in the household, unpaid.  As a consequence, they have less power in deciding over family matters including the number of children born into the household.

The inability of women to bring in cash incomes likewise necessitates the bearing of more children for additional hands to help in the household and farm work.  Further, recent events show the high incidence of child labor, children are sent to work in big farms and factories for pay.  Some are even out in the streets peddling cigarettes and small food items just to bring in money for the house coffer.

In developed countries where women are literate and have good paying jobs, they showed more power in resisting pressure to bear more children.  Bringing in cash income empowers these women in making decisions within their families.  That power extends over to their own bodies; as child bearers and child nurturers.

Empowering women through outside employment therefore minimizes the unequal balance of power within the family.  As women become more capable of deciding over their lives and bodies, other relevant concerns are being considered and accordingly heeded.

First and foremost is health.  As women bear the burden of childbearing, they can now determine the number of children their health allows.  This means physical, mental, and emotional health.  This is required not only during pregnancy and childbirth but more so during the child rearing period.  More often, criminals and social deviants were once battered children—victims of child abuse.  This kind of occurrence should strictly be avoided.
Another important concern is the welfare of the children.  Women, being the direct child nurturer can now decide that with the limited family resources, the lesser the number the children the better they can be raised.  The children can be better fed, better clothed, better schooled, and better attended to during illness.  Simply calculating that raising a child entails great expense would lessen the parent’s demand for more children.
Indeed, politics and economics rule in the family system even if families were initially built on emotional bond.  The distribution of household resources is according to power.  Fertility choices are dependent on power as well.  So for family planning to be effective, power within the family must first be shared.





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