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Several policy initiatives support the empowerment of women to improve their reproductive health. Little is known, however, about the inverse effect that reproductive health might have on women’s empowerment. Women are pressured to conform to their reproductive role, and an inability to do so might affect their empowerment, including control over their own body. This study uses a panel dataset of 504 married women in Northern Tanzania. We find that women who suffered a pregnancy loss show more tolerant views of partner violence (regr. coefficient -0.363; p-value: 0.001), and that child mortality lowers their perceived control over the sexual relationship with their spouse (odds ratio 0.262; p-value: 0.016). The number of children alive did not affect bodily integrity. These results confirm that women’s bodily integrity is partly dependent on the ability to fulfil their reproductive role. They strengthen the case for policies and programmes that improve women’s reproductive health, and underline the importance of counselling after pregnancy or child loss.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323–341
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Family Planning
Issue number4
Early online date10 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Reproductive health
  • bodily integrity
  • empowerment
  • pregnancy loss
  • intimate partner violence
  • child mortality
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Tanzania

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