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Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

In this short text, Dr Brenda Bartelink reviews and sums up the content of Activity 3 on women's perspectives.
An illustration of a woman surrounded by wordclouds with words relevant to SRHR.
© University of Groningen

In the previous steps you have explored what Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are in your perspective, and explored how these terms become meaningful in the policies of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund.

In the latter you may have noticed that the emphasis is on problems related to health and inequality. Sexual wellbeing is mentioned, yet not made explicit, while broader references to religion and culture are scarce or only made in terms of how they hinder women’s access to sexual health and rights.

In the video, Dr. Elizabeth Mudzimu refers to how culture and religion add layers of complexity around women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights. As illustrated in the stories of Tendai and Grace, there are many limits to women’s ability to choose and women often experience force within their intimate relationships with their spouses.

The Catholic Church with its emphasis on natural family planning adds a layer of complexity that women have to navigate. Do they take the risk of an unplanned pregnancy or do they opt for forms of contraception that are less acceptable from a Catholic perspective?

And how much space do they have in their relationships to make their own choices regarding pregnancy and contraceptive use? In particular when cultural systems place a heavy burden on women (and men) to have many children?

Elizabeth Mudzimu asks how women navigate their sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of these complexities. The women mention various strategies such as resisting force and creating open communication about matters of sexual wellbeing with their husbands.

In the last step you have considered another strategy that women have utilized to navigate inequality and violence, making public their experiences with sexual abuse en gender based violence by using #MeToo.

In the next activity, you will continue exploring the interplay SRHR, culture and religion in Zimbabwe. Yet, here you shift the perspective to men and masculinities. Exploring how these are shaped by the complex interplay of Christianity and local cultures and traditions, you learn how gender inequality and violence are reproduced and legitimized.

© University of Groningen
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Religion and Sexual Wellbeing: Pleasure, Piety, and Reproductive Rights

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