Sunday K. Alonge, 2004

The empowerment of women is seen as the panacea for social ills, high population growth rate, environmental degradation and the low status of women, amongst others.  In this study about 500 ever-married women aged 15 to 49 years were interviewed on the determinants of their empowerment.  Nearly 90% of the women said that they took part in decision making on issues that affect their families.  Women with tertiary education were more likely to be empowered.

Around a quarter of the women were educated to tertiary level and over another quarter to secondary level.  About 60 per cent were Christian and almost 40 per cent were Muslim.  Their religion did not appear to affect women’s empowerment.  Most of the women were working, especially in the informal sector.  Over 90% of the women supported the idea of empowering women.

The six decision making areas were:

Number of children to have – over one in five said it was the decision of their husband.

Number of months to wait before having another child – nearly half said it was their own decision.

Decision making on issues affecting the family – over 10 per cent of women did not participate.

Taking child to hospital without the husband’s permission – nearly two thirds could do this.

Use of the woman’s own money – over three quarters could do this without their husband’s permission

Decision to go out – over eighty per cent required their husband’s permission.

Women were considered empowered if they participated in at least three of the above areas.  Let’s hope that things have improved in the last two decades!


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