'I never go anywhere': extricating the links between women's mobility and uptake of reproductive health services in Pakistan

Soc Sci Med. 2005 Apr;60(8):1751-65. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.08.019.


An integrated analysis of large-scale survey data and detailed ethnography is presented to examine the patterns of women's mobility and their relationships with contraceptive and antenatal care use in Pakistan. Findings confirm that women's mobility is circumscribed but also illustrate the complex and contested nature of female movement. No direct relationship between a woman's unaccompanied mobility and her use of either contraception or antenatal care is found. In contrast, accompanied mobility does appear to play a role in the uptake of antenatal care, and is found to reflect the strength of a woman's social resources. Class and gender hierarchies interact to pattern women's experience. Poor women's higher unaccompanied mobility was associated with a loss of prestige and susceptibility to sexual violence. Among richer women, such movement did not constitute a legitimate target for male exploitation, nor did it lead to a loss of status on the part of their families. The findings caution against the use of western notions of 'freedom of movement' and associated quantitative indicators. At the same time, the wider impact of mobility restrictions on women's reproductive health is acknowledged and policy implications are identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Pakistan
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproductive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Population
  • Social Class