Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

Women's Empowerment and Ideal Family Size: An Examination of DHS Empowerment Measures in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Upadhyay, Ushma D.; Karasek, Deborah | International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Women's Empowerment and Ideal Family Size: An Examination of DHS Empowerment Measures in Sub-Saharan Africa


Upadhyay, Ushma D., Karasek, Deborah, International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health


CONTEXT: The Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) program collects data on women's empowerment, but little is known about how these measures perform in Sub-Saharan African countries. It is important to understand whether women's empowerment is associated with their ideal number of children and ability to limit fertility to that ideal number in the Sub-Saharan African context.

METHODS: The analysis used couples data from OHS surveys in four Sub-Saharan African countries: Guinea, Mali, Namibia and Zambia. Women's empowerment was measured by participation in household decision making, attitudes toward wife beating and attitudes toward refusing sex with one's husband. Multivariable linear regression was used to model women's ideal number of children, and multivariable logistic regression was used to model women's odds of having more children than their ideal.

RESULTS: In Guinea and Zambia, negative attitudes toward wife beating were associated with having a smaller ideal number of children (beta coefficients, -0.5 and -0.3, respectively). Greater household decision making was associated with a smaller ideal number of children only in Guinea (beta coefficient, -0.3). Additionally, household decision making and positive attitudes toward women's right to refuse sex were associated with elevated odds of having more children than desired in Namibia and Zambia, respectively (odds ratios, 2.3 and 1.4); negative attitudes toward wife beating were associated with reduced odds of the outcome in Mali (0.4).

CONCLUSIONS: Women's empowerment--as assessed using currently available measures--is not consistently associated with a desire for smaller families or the ability to achieve desired fertility in these Sub-Saharan African countries. Further research is needed to determine what measures are most applicable for these contexts.

International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2012, 38(2):78-89, doi:10.1363/3807812

The literature on women's empowerment has defined and conceptualized "empowerment" using different and often interchangeable terms, including "autonomy," "status" and "agency." (1), (2) According to one definition, empowerment is "the expansion of people's ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability was previously, denied to them." (3) Two central components of empowerment are the agency and the resources needed to exercise life choices. (2), (3) In addition, the construct of women's empowerment encompasses many dimensions, including reproductive, economic, social and cultural, familial and interpersonal, legal, political and psychologica1, (2) which leads to wide variation in conceptualization.

Given this wide variation, women's empowerment is difficult to measure consistently. Studies often assess women's autonomy with an index measuring participation in decision making about various household issues, which represents women's degree of control over their environment. Some researchers include both major decisions (e.g., large household purchases) and minor decisions (e.g., what food to cook) in the index, (4) whereas others exclude day-to-day household choices and those that are traditionally within the woman's domain. (5) Other measures of women's empowerment assess freedom of movement, (6), (7) differences in age and education between marital partners, (8), (9) and the process of spouse selection. (10)

Even with a clear definition and conceptualization, these constructs are difficult to quantify in a standardized way within a given population. To measure empowerment at an individual level, researchers must translate the amorphous construct into a set of specific questions that population-based surveys can ask; ideally, those questions would be applicable to individual respondents with a diverse set of social and demographic characteristics. For example, young women who have not had sex would not have the experience needed to answer questions about sexual power.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Women's Empowerment and Ideal Family Size: An Examination of DHS Empowerment Measures in Sub-Saharan Africa
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.