Online Program

Women's autonomy and the influence on female genital cutting in Eritrea

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ghenet Besera, BS, Department of Global Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
Amira Roess, PhD, MPH, Department of Global Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
Background: The prevalence of female genital cutting (FGC) in Eritrea is among the highest in the world, with 89 percent of women experiencing FGC. Despite a ban on FGC enacted in 2007 and numerous measures implemented to enforce the ban, the practice continues. It is important to understand women's autonomy to get insight into women's control over their lives, domestic environment and gender roles, which are important in understanding demographic and health behavior, including behavior and attitudes towards FGC. Methods: Data were retrieved from the 2002 Eritrea Demographic and Health Survey and included a nationally representative sample of 8,754 women. Measures of women's autonomy (attitudes towards wife beating and involvement in household decisions) and socio-demographic characteristics were included as independent variables. Having at least one daughter circumcised and support of the continuation of FGC were outcome measures. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine significant predictors of the practice and attitudes towards FGC. Results: 63 percent of women have at least one daughter circumcised and 50 percent of women believed FGC should continue. When controlling for socio-demographic characteristics, women who justify wife beating were more likely to support the continuation of FGC (OR=1.43, 95% CI: 1.23-1.66) and women who participate in household decisions were less likely to support the continuation (OR=0.87, 95% CI: 0.75-0.99). Conclusions: Interventions addressing women's autonomy, specifically attitudes towards gender norms and increasing women's involvement in household decisions that carry a greater responsibility, may be a useful approach in reducing the support and practice of FGC.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the relationship between women's autonomy and attitudes towards the continuation of female genital cutting Explain the influence of women's autonomy on the practice of female genital cutting

Keyword(s): Female Genital Mutilation, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Master of Public Health candidate with a concentration in Global Health at The George Washington University. I was primarily responsible for all aspects of the project design and data analyses and interpretation, with the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Amira Roess.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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