Education and Reproductive Autonomy: The Case of Married Nigerian Women
Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics
Pages / Article-Number
Adult; Culture; Decision Making; Developing Countries; Educational Status; Family Characteristics; Female; Health Education; Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice; Health Services Accessibility; Humans; Male; Marriage; Middle Aged; Nigeria; Personal Autonomy; Power (Psychology); Pregnancy; Reproduction; Socioeconomic Factors; Surveys and Questionnaires; Women's Rights; Young Adult
In this article, we examine the inﬂuence of education on the exercise of married women’s reproductive autonomy. We carried out 34 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with purposively sampled married Ikwerre women in Rivers State, Nigeria. The participants were between the ages of 22 and 60, had different educational backgrounds, and were in monogamous and polygynous marriages. Data were analyzed using MAXQDA 11 software. We found that although formal education enhanced women’s ability to exercise reproductive autonomy, the culture of demanding absolute respect for men remains a major barrier. Formal education provides women with the knowledge that they need in order to access adequate health services for themselves and their children. Par-ticipants also believed that educating men was critical for the exercise of women’s reproductive autonomy. The cultural aspects that promote female subordination and patriarchy should be addressed more openly in Nigeria.