Vol. 3, Issue 3 (2018)
A comparative study on child preferences among selected rural and urban households in Zimbabwe
Author(s): Rudaviro Matikiti, Tanyaradzwa Chigonda, Tendekai Rusena
Abstract: Due to various reasons, traditional African societies have largely been patriarchal, preferring the boy child to the girl child, with the marginalisation of the girl child resulting in various costs to her and to society at large. In light of the above, and given the globalization and modernization trends across the continent, this study sought to comparatively establish current child preferences of husbands as household heads in an urban area and a rural area in Chipinge District, Zimbabwe. The reasons and impacts of the established child preferences were also assessed, and recommendations suggested based on the study findings. A questionnaire, key-informant interviews and group discussions were use in gathering primary data in the study communities. The study revealed a preference for more boys to girls as children in both study communities, though this seemed to be more pronounced in the rural area compared to the urban area. Among the reasons for the preference for more boys to girls in the study sites included: perpetuation of the family name; inheritance of family assets; leadership in society; and guaranteed family labour especially in the rural area. The preference for more boys has resulted in some marital instabilities in the study areas, particularly in the rural area, evidenced by increased incidences of divorce and polygamy as husbands search for sons whom their first wives would have failed to bear. The preference for boys has also seen some household heads sending only boys to school or sending girls only up to grade seven. Such marginalisation of the girl child retards the socio-economic development of the country as girls will not realise their full potential. The study recommends the need for government, in collaboration with non-governmental organisations involved with gender issues, to come up with policies that more effectively enhance gender equity in Zimbabwe.