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Reproductive identity and the proper woman : the response of urban women to AIDS in Uganda

Ogden, Jessica Ann


Jessica Ann Ogden


Sandra Wallman


This thesis considers the extent to which factors involved in women's reproductive identity construction constrain their capacity to protect themselves from HIV infection. It proposes that currently available prevention methods are impracticable for women in this setting, because it is only through unprotected sexual intercourse that they achieve "Proper Womanhood".

The thesis is divided into three parts. Part I addresses the historical and epistemiological roots of the problem, and the methodological approach taken. Four bodies of literature are reviewed for this purpose. Part II consists of six case studies, which provide the empirical foundations for the analysis presented in Part III.

It is argued that since the colonial era, Kampala women have struggled to establish their rightful place in the city. Doing so, however, has often meant choosing between social respectability and economic independence. This history has influenced the development of the Proper Woman construct, and contributes to its power. New dilemmas brought by the AIDS pandemic both underscore the relevance of Proper Woman values and present new obstacles to attaining them. Although AIDS is recognised as a clear and present danger, remaining HIV negative is not yet seen as a priority overriding all others. For women in this corner of Kampala, despite AIDS and the exigencies of city life, striving for decency and demonstrating respect and respectability, give shape to daily life, and meaning to the future. The thesis concludes with a discussion of how interventions should take account of the existing normative structure, and particularly of existing values and norms that influence sexual and reproductive behaviour in relevant ways.


Ogden, J. A. (1995). Reproductive identity and the proper woman : the response of urban women to AIDS in Uganda. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 16, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Anthropology; Folklore; Sociology; Human services
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Sociology, The University of Hull
Award Date Oct 1, 1995


Thesis (15.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1995 Ogden, Jessica Ann. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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