Autonomy and life projects, reasons not have children

A recent study carried out by the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) School of Gender Studies shows the transformations of the living history of childless women who perceive maternity as an option and not as a destiny.

Although there is not a single cause for which women decide not to have children, UNal Master’s in Gender Studies Claudia Margarita Muñoz, inquired on the most frequent reasons why maternity is no longer a priority.

To study why the concept of being mothers has changed in the current society, Muñoz surveyed urban living, professional, and childless women due to their own volition, between 40 and 49 years of age.

“This group of women had different religious creeds, different sexual orientation and some had a partner. All had specializations or a master’s degree, stability and economic independence, stable work and had traveled abroad,” said Muñoz.

Additionally all the women surveyed were middle class, none came from families with high incomes and all had to make an effort to build their life projects, including paying for their higher education, working while studying and living with their families while they were in college, among others.

After semi-structured interviews on their socioeconomic, educational and emotional characteristics, information on their childhood, and adolescence, family relationships, partner relations and the reasons they had not chosen to have children, the researcher discovered that building autonomy and giving priority to other personal projects were the main reasons that headed the list.

For all the surveyed women to become educated was an important aspiration for their own realization. Inclusively Teresa, one interviewee said that she had postponed her marriage to an older man because her priority was to finish her college degree and not depend economically on anybody. Teresa’s mother had been dependent on her father.

“Women note the importance of building a personal history and left behind sacrifice and emotional relationships which implied economic dependence or lack of decision-making,” said Muñoz.

Among the interviewees there were also women with stable partners, including Karen, who said that having a child never exceeded her desire to have a life for herself and not have to live dependent on anybody.

“The sacrifices for having children are many, so we decided not to have children and we are content with that decision and none of us is trying to convince the other,” she said.

Furthermore some also had reasons like the pain linked to birth and the implications of raising a child as well as the responsibility of exercising maternity.

Sandra, another interviewee said, “The life of women with children has many sacrifices, to a point one gets lost in them and I do not accept that, I do not agree with that.”

Lastly the interviewed group said they disagreed with the structure of a traditional family and had a negative perception of the world, such as the current global insecurity or violence, therefore it was unnecessary to bring children into the world to suffer from these things.

According to the National Demography and Health Survey of 2010, in Colombia the rate of children per mother passed from 6.7 in 1969 to 2.1 in 2010. For Bogotá, the global birth rate per women is 14% less than the registered in the rest of the country, in other words 1.8 children per women in comparison to 2.1 children in the rest of the country.

Furthermore there is an inversely proportional ratio between the amount of children per women and the educational level and between the wealth level and the fertility rate.

Muñoz says that the women mentality change began in the late 60’s and middle 70’s and included important changes in the socioeconomic lives of women in Colombia, because they began to be actively involved in work and educational environments.

“Today’s society accepts more easily that a man can be an excellent man without being a father, but the opposite occurs with women without children. However we are undergoing transformations on the expectations and life projects which will suppose a change in women traditions,” she said.

Agencia de Noticias UNAL |

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