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Feminist critique of the Karanga people of Zimbabwe’s understanding of infertility as a woman’s reproductive health right.

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Infertility is a global reproductive and health challenge in the 21st century across traditional to modern-clinical contexts. Despite attempts to remedy it, infertility remains a reality that leaves a vulnerable space to some Karanga women, as it is understood to disqualify them from womanhood. This context reflects that Karanga infertility conception has contributed to the silencing of some Karanga women over their reproduction, which exacerbates the deterioration of their reproductive health. Writing from an African feminist perspective, this study critiques the Karanga people of Zimbabwe’s understanding of infertility as a woman’s reproductive health rights, asking how a feminist critique of the Karanga people’s understanding of infertility can contribute to Reproductive Health Right in Zimbabwe. Using a non-empirical qualitative research method, the study collected data from written texts and analysed it through gender and thematic analysis. This study is further supported by an African woman narrative theology (Ayanga 2016), making reference to Oduyoye’s (1999) personal story and the reproductive justice framework (Chiweshe et al. 2017), so as to understand infertility as a lived reality within an African heteropatriarchal context that exemplifies the Karanga as patriarchal, and its response to infertility. From this analysis, this study acknowledges fertility as a key traditional religious and cultural value among the Karanga people, which impacts their conception of infertility in a problematic way. In this research I disclose infertility as a religio cultural construct embedded in a patriarchal systematic reality of the Karanga, leaving some Karanga women vulnerable in terms of their reproductive health rights and well-being. The research reveals that the Karanga understanding of infertility lacks a ‘just’ theological dialogue that goes beyond Karanga women’s biological progeny in responding to infertility. The study recommends inviting the Karanga to transform and understand infertility in a way that affirms the reproductive health and rights of a Karanga woman in the contemporary Zimbabwe.


Masters degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.