Religion, regional context and women’s autonomy in household decision-making in Ghana
This thesis is an examination of the dynamics of religion, regional context and women’s autonomy in household decision-making in Ghana. The study employed an explanatory sequential mixed-method approach to examine these dynamics. First, the quantitative component of the study used the nationally representative 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) couple’s data file that provided a general understanding of the dynamics of the relationship between religion, regional context and women’s autonomy in household decision-making. This dataset was also the basis for examining the relationship between religion, regional context and men’s attitudes towards women’s autonomy in household decision-making. The analysis of this set of data involved the use of such statistical techniques as frequencies, bi-variate correlations, logistic regression models, complementary log-log regression models and the Latent Class Analysis to achieve the set objectives. The second strand of data was qualitative, which collected data using the purposive sampling approach in Accra (Southern Ghana) and Tamale (Northern Ghana) between December 2014 and January 2015. Generally, this dataset sought to provide meaning, context and depth using the thematic analyses approach. The study found that, in general, Ghanaian women are autonomous and men have favourable attitudes towards women’s autonomy. With respect to religion, Muslim women were not different from Christian women regarding autonomy in household decision-making. However, Traditionalist/Spiritualist women compared to Christian women were significantly more autonomous in household decision-making. There was evidence of difference in regional context regarding factors that influence women’s autonomy in household decision-making. Women in the southern context (which is relatively more socio-economically developed and expected to be egalitarian) were less likely to be autonomous in decision-making compared to women in the northern context. Ghanaian women can be classified into three subgroups: “Poor”, “Average” and “High” level of autonomy groups based on their household decision-making patterns. The study found that culture and religion shaped and served as the basis for the justification of power structures and gender roles in household decision-making. Religious institutions were very critical in the socialisation process and in reinforcing the status quo in household decision-making. The results also showed that, despite the fact that men hold authority in household decision-making, women played active roles in the household decision-making process. Women employed tactics such as ‘taking decisions without their partners’ consent’, involving ‘significant others’ and ‘nagging’ to get decisions to turn in their favour. Even though there was some evidence of religious effect on women’s autonomy in household decision-making in Ghana, the findings also show the importance of socio-cultural factors that influence women’s autonomy in household decision-making within each regional context. Indeed, ‘men are the heads of households and expected to be in control of household decision-making; however, women are the necks and when the neck turns the head will follow’. Strategies to enhance women’s autonomy need to be context-specific since different sets of factors influence women’s autonomy in different context. In addition, interventions to enhance women’s autonomy in household decision-making should be designed towards meeting the specificities of the various subgroups of women.
- Humanities