Springer Nature

The relationship between women’s individual empowerment and the support to female genital cutting continuation: a study on 7 African countries

Posted on 2022-02-15 - 08:12
Abstract Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is still present in many African countries, as well as a few others. The United Nations has targeted women’s empowerment in terms of both women’s health and gender equality as one of its Sustainable Development Goals. In this paper, we aimed to study the possible link between women’s empowerment and support for the continuation of FGM/C. We used DHS data from seven African countries and considered both the empowerment and FGM/C modules. We selected empowerment variables based on Kabeer’s conceptual framework and used multilevel logistic models to evaluate the putative role of empowerment in support for discontinuing the practice. The multilevel models highlighted the protective effect of education. Other variables, including justification of intimate partner violence (IPV) and having experienced FGM/C, were associated with FGM/C support. The relationship between decision-making and FGM/C support appears complex, while the unmet need for contraception and job conditions do not seem to play a role. Our findings confirm that some aspects of women’s empowerment (education and rejection of IPV) may enhance the discontinuation of FGM/C. However, the relationship between empowerment and support for continuation of FGM/C is complex and should not be treated as self-evident. Thus, using DHS data, we empirically support the UN’s proposal for discontinuing FGM/C through sustaining women’s empowerment.


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