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Childbearing and Motherhood in the Context of HIV/AIDS in South Africa

  • 2011-2013
  • Project
Sennott, Christie, University of Colorado-Boulder

Study: “Childbearing and Motherhood in the Context of HIV/AIDS in South Africa”
PI(s): Sennott, Christie
Affiliation(s): University of Colorado-Boulder
Institutional Partner(s): IIE Fellow
Project Dates:
Start: 2011
End: 2013
Data Source(s):
Geographic Location(s): South Africa

This study investigates childbearing patterns among rural South African women, especially the relationship between HIV prevalence, AIDS mortality, and antiretroviral therapies. This analysis draws on qualitative data to examine the management of nonmarital fertility among young women in two rural black communities situated in different provinces of South Africa: KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. While the two communities share a history of economic and social disadvantage and limited access to the labor market, there are nonetheless distinctive features evident in the management of nonmarital fertility. The study finds that young women in both communities aspire to an ideal ordering of events that places finishing education before getting married and having children, but that this is not easily attained. However, there are important differences in the ways young women and their families respond to union formation and childbearing that often occurs outside of a recognised union. In Hlabisa, KwaZulu-Natal, formal processes for legitimizing nonmarital pregnancies through union recognition are still in place; whereas, in Agincourt, Mpumalanga, more emphasis is placed on securing support and paternal recognition for the child rather than on cementing the union between the young woman and her partner. These findings have important implications for intervention programs that often treat black communities as homogeneous wholes.

Research Outputs:
Angotti, Nicole & Sennott, Christie. (2014). Implementing ‘insider’ ethnography: lessons from the Public Conversations about HIV/AIDS project in rural South Africa. Qualitative Research. DOI: 10.1177/1468794114543402.

Madhavan, Sangeetha, Harrison, Abigail & Sennott, Christie. (2013). Management of non-marital fertility in two South African communities. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(5): 614-628. DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2013.777475.

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