28 september 2022
Gendered Inequalities on Contraceptive Use and Women’s Reproductive Rights
A Philosophical Reflection on Women in the Johane Marange Apostolic Church in Harare
Chipo Mable Hatendi, PhDLecturer,
University of Zimbabwe
Religion plays a significant role in creating inequalities between men and women in different facets of life. The Johane Marange Apostolic Church (JMAC) doctrine particularly on contraception has created inequalities with regard to women’s reproductive rights. This paper is a qualitative investigation and examination of the gendered inequalities on contraceptive use and reproductive rights of women in the JMAC. The paper made use of the Johane Marange Apostolic Churches in some selected districts of Harare as case study. The paper seeks to answer the following research question, how has the JMAC doctrine on contraception created some gendered inequalities particularly on contraceptive use and reproductive rights of women in this Apostolic church. In answering this research question, I made use of field data collected through participant observation and in-depth interviews with women in some selected JMACs in Harare. The paper takes a qualitative research approach. I analyse the data in order to draw conclusions regarding gendered inequalities on contraceptive use and reproductive rights of men and women in JMAC. Major findings of the study showed that the clandestine use of modern contraceptives by women in JMAC against their church doctrine has turned them into independent agents. Women in JMAC have now changed the way in which they view their sexuality, thus, they are now able to control their sexual and reproductive capabilities. Through the clandestine use of modern contraceptives, the paper showed that most married women in JMAC now liberate themselves from being passive sexual and reproductive vessels. On the whole, the paper submits that it is the JMAC religious doctrine against contraception which has created some gendered inequalities on sexual and reproductive rights of women in JMAC.
The paper investigates and examines the gendered inequalities on contraceptive use and reproductive rights of women in the JMAC. The purpose here is to demonstrate the impact of religion in creating inequalities particularly on contraceptive use and reproductive rights in the JMAC community.
The paper makes use of field data collected on contraceptive use and gender implications for married women in JMAC in Harare. Research findings on contraceptive use have positively indicated a widespread reception of these contraceptives by most married women in the JMAC. Such a widespread reception of modern contraceptives raises issues in two important areas, gender relations and reproductive rights of women in JMAC, The paper gives particular focus on the gendered inequalities on reproductive rights of women in JMAC.
The research was guided by the following research questions;
1)Do women in the Johane Marange Apostolic Church use contraceptives?
2)What are the gendered inequalities on contraceptive use and women’s reproductive rights in JMAC?
The study took a qualitative research paradigm which is concerned with subjective assessment of attitudes, opinions and behaviour (Kothari, 2004: 5). The quantitative research paradigm could not be employed in this study because the approach surveys a large number of individuals and applies statistical techniques to recognize overall patterns in the relations of processes. The research design adopted in this study is a case study design. Participant observation and in-depth interviews were conducted with married women and church elders in the selected Johane Marange Apostolic Churches in Harare. We conducted one-on-one interviews at their different homes in order to avoid bias. We noted that if these oral interviews were to be conducted at their places of worship, it would distort information since participants would not open up to give true information in fear of their church elders. Key informant interviews were conducted with family planning providers to understand their engagement with women from the Johane Marange Apostolic Church. These interviews were carried out in order to ascertain the position of the Church on the use of contraceptives and to determine women’s reception of modern contraceptives. Also, the interviews sought to investigate and examine some gendered inequalities issues that were associated with utilising modern contraceptives. Twelve different Johane Marange Apostolic Churches (JMAC) in Harare were consulted. The different JMACs which include, Belvedere, Kuwadzana 4, Kuwadzana Extension, Dzivaresekwa, Warren Park, Budiriro, Glenview, and Chitungwiza districts among others were engaged. In each Apostolic church, twenty-five to thirty women were interviewed on contraceptive use and their implications or repercussions on gender. Three to five church elders were also interviewed in order to ascertain the position of the church doctrine on contraception. One member of the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) and two other family planning service providers were also consulted, to understand how they engaged women from Johane Marange Apostolic Churches on modern contraceptives. Data for this study were collected in one phase between July 2017 and January 2018. Collection of data was through one-on-one interviews, and participant observation. The time frame of data collection from July 2017 to January 2018 was adequate enough. Given the qualitative nature of this study, it utilized the inductive approach to data analysis.The inductive approach takes qualitative data analysis to beginwith a complete set of collected data in form of transcripts of 70 interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation conducted during field data collection.
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About the article
The article is published in the Journal JOCAP n° 3 under the title "Politics, Afropolitanism, and Human Development" .
JOCAP (Journal of Contemporary African Philosophy) is the journal of Domuni University and is interested in contributions that specifically link philosophy to the contemporary needs of Africa (from philosophy) as well as contributions that are imaginative in their attempt at shaping African philosophical discourse beyond affirmations of its existence.