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Women who do not want to have children and why

In Italy about 22% of women born in the late 70s will end their productive period without children. Not only the significant incidence of the phenomenon but also the evolution of the characteristics of childless women could signal a major change.


In Italy if a woman freely decides not to have children, she is a witch.

Considered selfish, immature, irrational, sometimes hysterical and decidedly presumptuous, in a patriarchal system childless women do not have a precise role in society. They are blunt. And above all they are frightening because it is not "natural" that they do not want to reproduce.

The desire for motherhood for a woman is taken for granted, for a man no. It does not exist and "the desire for fatherhood" is never mentioned. Although we are at the threshold of 2024, the choice not to reproduce is seen as abnormal and as something that sooner or later "the woman in question will regret"

Historically described in society as the individual who knows how to care for children, the woman is confined to the walls of the house.  You don’t have to choose, but you’d be better off doing it because if you don’t, you’re going to suffer the political weight of a demographic downturn on your head. 

In Italy, about 22% of women born at the end of the 1970s will end their productive period without children. Not only the significant incidence of the phenomenon but also the evolution of childless women’s characteristics could signal an important change. This choice seems more frequent among employed women, educated, and residents in the North of Italy, who give greater importance to their working career or more generally to a realization of their lives.

We interviewed four women without children. Here’s their reason. 

Silvia 45, a graduate and employee in a multinational company: "Once I read that it is hormones that make you say you want a child, or the biological clock" says smiling "I simply and contrary to all my friends have never been attracted to motherhood. I’ve had a stable partner for five years who doesn’t want to have kids, and neither do I. It should be a natural choice, right? And then what would I do with my career?".

Cristina 27 years, newly graduated in Law tells that she would like to adopt a child, not do it because for her it is selfish with so many children around the world who need care. She has 2 cats and she would like to adopt a dog too, obviously at the kennel. "My dream is to defend women, if I ever succeed"

Laura 52 years, runs a restaurant: "I am childless because I simply did not want them. My partner left me for this reason but I preferred to live my life without compromising. I didn’t feel like it and I honestly don’t like it. I look at them as something I don’t understand and in fact they can never be part of my life".

And finally Giulia 41, happily married, passionate about cooking and gardening: "I let nature take its course and despite the fact that my husband and I never used precautions, they did not arrive. I never had a nagging desire, but I said to myself "if it will, it will". Since it didn’t happen, I live my life without feeling wrong or different. I don’t see what’s wrong?" 

Career, precarious economic condition, a sense of inadequacy or simply the lack of the desire to have children are just some of the more understandable reasons that women candidly mention the question "Why don’t you want to have children?".

What is missing? A supportive environment that doesn’t make women feel wrong or strange or different, concrete help for those who want to devote themselves to the career and understanding so as to allow the female gender to be in a position to consciously evaluate whether and how to carry out their life plans.

Known in the English-speaking world as Childfree, women who choose not to have children in Italy do not even have a transversally accepted term to be defined. So we tried it. 

"Do you feel like a witch?" 

"Absolutely yes", they replied in unison, laughing.


Illustrazione di Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios