[V24-N2-1] Not a mother, yet a woman: Exploring experiences of women opting out of motherhood in India

Author Chandni Bhambhani & Anand Inbanathan
Date 2018년 6월



Motherhood is a role and institution that defines a woman’s identity and provides her adult status in Indian society. A girl, from her childhood, is socialized to be a future mother and reproducer of the family. In this context, when a woman is not a mother, either by circumstance or choice, she is deemed as “incomplete” with a “deviant” identity. This paper analyzes the experiences of women who defy such structurally embedded notions of womanhood and redefine their identity beyond the institution of motherhood. Exploring the experiences of twelve childfree women in some cities of India, this paper examines their reasons for opting out of motherhood. The intricacies of each narrative reflect the complexity of arriving at any generalization on what makes women forgo motherhood. Nonetheless, the unwillingness to embrace the role of motherhood at the cost of losing their freedom and the urge to pursue personal desires emerge as predominant reasons along with other motivations.