Fertility and contraception in Maghreb



Lacoste-dujardin C.

Al Usrah Wa Al Umran Al Bashari. 1987;(5-6):37-47.


In analyzing the historical and cultural factors defining the specific situation of women in Maghreb, it is shown that economic, political, and structural changes are occurring in the countries of Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), but that the traditional patriarchal conception of life is even more conservative in reaction to these changes. In the patriarchal lineage structure, where the power of a family depends on the number of its males, the role of women is essentially reproductive. A woman has a social value once she becomes the mother of several sons. This was, and still is, the only way out of the lowest position in the social hierarchy for women. This situation has been leading to an intensive fertility (The birth rate was 50% in Morocco, in 1975; it was 46% in Algeria, in 1981; 32% in Tunisia, in 1983; and 47% in Libya, in 1981). It also has led to a high rate of maternal mortality, and morbidity, as well as puerperal psychosis. The sexual discrimination in favour of men in this reproductive context, has been immobilizing the relation between the sexes. The only affective relation between woman and man has been the relation between mother and son. The perpetuation of this conception in people’s mind, by the weight of habits and of religius ideology, has been the strongest obstacle to demographic transition and to the necessary decline of the birth rate in these countries. Nevertheless, the possibility of changes in mentality has been growing through the slow development of women’s education, and through State demographic policies favoring birth limitation.

Keywords: Fertility and contraception in Maghreb