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srhr@afyadigital.health
Arusha, Tanzania
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When motherhood is no longer a choice

Yet at the same time, many women around the world say the pandemic and its economic fallout have compelled them to delay or forgo desired pregnancies.

This was the case for Anastasia Ciuleacu and Vitalie Maistru, of Chisinau, Moldova. They always wanted their toddler to have a sibling, but just as they were about to start trying for their second, the pandemic hit. 

Ms. Ciuleacu and her husband have always wanted a sibling for their son. Siblings can be “soulmates”, she says. Image courtesy of Anastasia Ciuleacu

“It is very important to have a soulmate in this world to rely on, as I have with my sister,” Ms. Ciuleacu, 32, explained. “However, at the beginning of this crisis, the last thing I would think of was to have another child.”

Not only are women weighing the risks of becoming pregnant amid the pandemic, many are also facing increased financial burdens. “The pandemic forced us to opt for a private kindergarten,” Ms. Ciuleacu said, explaining that such expenses can overwhelm parents. “It is expensive, but we did not have another choice. That was the only way we could continue working at home during the pandemic, as the public institutions were closed.”

Women around the world are facing variations of this dilemma. Escalating care-taking responsibilities have forced many to leave the workforce. Others were only precariously or informally employed to begin with; many of those jobs vanished under pandemic restrictions. For these women, as the pandemic compounds their burdens and deepens gender inequalities, the choice to become a mother increasingly looks like no choice at all. 

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