“Shaping the family”: Individual’s capabilities to exercise reproductive rights seen through a qualitative survey

Claudine Sauvain-Dugerdil, Thomas Antwi Bosiakoh, Samba Diarra, Anouk Piraud, Samba Diop, John Anarfi, Samuel Agyei-Mensah


We analyze here the outcome of focus group discussions and individual interviews conducted in Mali and Ghana. The aim is to identify collective images about family norms and emergence of alternative values, and to examine people’s degree of ambivalence towards norms and their ability to conceive and realize their own family plans. Discourses show that family life plans should not be seen as pre-established. Ability to shape the family appears conjectural both as regards current resources and the position in the family trajectory. In both countries, two types of resources play a key role: schooling and influence/support from the family and network. Results highlight that the least individual freedom is to be found at the start of family life and in gender power relationships; some freedom appears in the timing of fertility; while more room for individual agency characterizes youth and individuals with more personal resources and supportive surroundings.


Qualitative survey; Family plans; Family norms; ambivalence; Mali; Ghana

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11564/28-2-601


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