Relative Status of Men and Women

Rights and decision-making powers vary significantly across the life cycle for men and maybe even more so for women. Publicly, men are viewed as the decision-makers for most of the important areas of everyday life, such as use of resources, community representation, or family and kinship matters. However, unmarried men and married men residing patrilocally are limited in their decision-making capacities by their father's authority. Equally, parents and in-laws often severely limit the freedom of their daughters and daughters-in-law to make decisions on almost all matters, ranging from the way to perform domestic chores to the use of birth control (Shedlin & Hollerbach, 1981). Not surprisingly, the establishment of an independent household generally enhances the decision-making power of husband and wife. However, the wife remains under the control of her husband. It is common that a woman exercises a significant amount of authority and decision-making influence only when her sons have reached adulthood and bring in daughters-in-law.

Female participation in the labor market does not necessarily result in enhancement of their influence and decision-making power. Husbands from lower-income classes sometimes feel threatened by a wife's entry into the labor market as this may signal publicly that a man is not able to provide for his wife (Beneria & Roldan, 1987). One consequence may be that, although the wife is the main breadwinner, she does not exercise the corresponding rights over the resources. Publicly, and sometimes also privately, the husband remains the main decision-maker (Del Castillo, 1993). However, well-educated working wives of the upper-income class report an increased say in household matters (Hubbell, 1993). International migration can also enhance the decision-making power of women. In the absence of their husbands, wives start to make decisions normally considered part of the male domain, like decisions on planting the field or supervising house construction (Finkler, 1994, p. 65).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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