The importance of gender

While in the process of interviewing post-ultrasound mothers, as well as the nurses who performed the procedure, it became quite clear how important the gender of the newborn is to it’s family. In addition to being illegal in Uganda, it is against Imaging the World policy to tell the parents the gender of their baby based on the ultrasound, an action that can be done relatively easily. This is to prevent the any negativity being directed from husbands to their wives following a “bad result” (sorry girls). This negativity could range from the cold shoulder to domestic violence, so it is understandable why ITW takes precautions to protect women. Talking to nurses, I learned that knowing the child’s gender is often a main reason women (and their husbands) come in for prenatal scans. So it is not at all surprising that this policy has left many parents disappointed.

One woman I interviewed after her procedure made this disappointment quite clear in response to multiple questions I asked-and understandably so. Not getting to know your child’s gender, in a country where gender plays such a huge role in the family’s life and the husbands pride, income and opportunities would likely leave almost any soon-to-be parent anxious. Despite her disappointment however, the mother I interviewed responded in the positive when I asked her if she was coming back for follow up scans. And while I do not know what her exact intentions were when she decided to get a scan in the first place, it is possible that the societal pressure to learn her unborn child’s gender has resulted in her own, improved maternal health. This is a small benefit underneath a very large issue.

- Benjamin Hyams ITW Enrichment Student