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Womens Empowerment Versus Masculinity - The Limitations of Excluding Men [Full Paper]

Womens Empowerment Versus Masculinity - The Limitations of Excluding Men [Full Paper]

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Published by Niamh de Barra
This study seeks to further understand the consequences of excluding men from women’s empowerment programs by examining the levels of women’s empowerment and attitudes to empowerment; expressed through the male viewpoint. Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) an NGO working in Zambia implementing female empowerment programs was used as a sample. Qualitative research was used with interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), targeting married men whose wives have completed the CAMFED empowerment program, a control group of men whose wives have never undergone empowerment was also sampled. It was found that while the CAMFED women had higher levels of empowerment in spousal selection, contraceptives and domestic duties compared to the control group. However when it came to full social and economic empowerment high levels of resistance were demonstrated and focused on male control over women and gender stereotypes. Men are happy with their wives earning but this did not translate to an equal status in the household. Tenants of masculinity were the greatest barrier to success. 100% of men asked to be included in the empowerment program and the findings suggest that education and inclusion is vital to the advancement of women’s empowerment.
This study seeks to further understand the consequences of excluding men from women’s empowerment programs by examining the levels of women’s empowerment and attitudes to empowerment; expressed through the male viewpoint. Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) an NGO working in Zambia implementing female empowerment programs was used as a sample. Qualitative research was used with interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), targeting married men whose wives have completed the CAMFED empowerment program, a control group of men whose wives have never undergone empowerment was also sampled. It was found that while the CAMFED women had higher levels of empowerment in spousal selection, contraceptives and domestic duties compared to the control group. However when it came to full social and economic empowerment high levels of resistance were demonstrated and focused on male control over women and gender stereotypes. Men are happy with their wives earning but this did not translate to an equal status in the household. Tenants of masculinity were the greatest barrier to success. 100% of men asked to be included in the empowerment program and the findings suggest that education and inclusion is vital to the advancement of women’s empowerment.

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Published by: Niamh de Barra on Apr 29, 2010
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Chapter one: Introduction
1.1 Introduction
The gender of a person can have detrimental consequences to their health outcomes. Conversely itis women, especially in Africa who disproportionately bear the burden of morbidity due torestricted access to educational, health and economic facilities. There are numerous inter-relatedfactors that exacerbate this phenomenon, particularly gender and cultural norms that can lead toinequalities in education, employment, inadequate legal protection, poverty, economicdependency and very little room for sexual negotiation. The common denominator is thesubservient status of women in many African societies. Often women are subjected to health riskfactors that are outside their control and under the remit of masculinity. The Amsterdamdeclaration in 1995 acknowledged that women’s health is a fundamental pillar that underpinssustainable human development (Sherr et al, 1996). Women are more likely than men to beeconomically and educationally disadvantaged, belong to minority groups and have less access tohealth care. (Sherr et al, 1996). Because of the above issues ‘empowering women’ socially, sexuallyand economically became the buzz word in development. If women are empowered there wouldbe a rise in household incomes, more educated workers, and thus a reduction in poverty, anincrease in health, economic and human resources and an overall improvement in the health of both men and women. Effectively this could also raise the social status of women in communities.Recently debates are ongoing regarding the participation or partnership of men in femaleempowerment. It has been argued that men are gatekeepers to the current social order andwithout their partnership female empowerment programs are only a partial solution todevelopment (Women’s commission for refugee women and children, 2005). Increasingly evidencehas pointed to sustainable success and higher social, sexual and economic empowerment levels of women when men are involved (Sternberg, P and Hubley, J 2004, Leonard et al, 2002, Jackson etal’s 1999, Drennan, 1998 and White, et al, 2003). Further research is essential to understand andmitigate potential gaps in female empowerment programs, one of which could be male
 
2involvement. Successful empowerment programs have the potential to lift entire communities outof poverty and poor health.
1.2 The Zambian Context
Over 70% of Zambians live in poverty with 7.5 million living on less than $1 a day; this placesZambia among the world's poorest nations, with a GDP OF $890 per capita (DFID, 2007)
.
Theoverall impact of Zambia’s socio-economic, cultural and health issues are deeply disaggregated bygender. Social indicators continue to decline, particularly in measurements of life expectancy atbirth which are currently 38 for men 37 for women, compared to 40 in the 2000 and in measuresof maternal mortality, 729 per 100,000 pregnancies in 2006 compared with 649 in 1996(Population Reference Bureau, 2007). The overall literacy rates stood at 67.9% in 2006 (WHO Factsheet, 2006). Yet 59.7% of women are literate compared to 76.1% of men (Human Rights Watch,2007). Unemployment is also a significant problem for the people of Zambia (Bureau of AfricanAffairs, 2008). 76% of Zambian women are engaged in agricultural work yet 63% receive nopayment (Human Rights Watch, 2007). Zambian women face multiple forms of discriminationincluding gender based violence (GBV) and ineffective legal protection (Human Rights Watch,2007).In the Global Gender Gap Report (GGG) (2006), Zambia ranked 85 out of 115 countries in genderequality indicators
1
. The GGG Report highlighted significant differences between men and womenin terms of access to education, employment, literacy rates and contraceptive use. Women are lessvisible than men in schools, have fewer employment opportunities and only 34% usecontraceptives (Population Reference Bureau, 2007). The indicators demonstrated male privilegein the aforementioned areas and overall the GGG Report concluded that Zambian social andeconomic structures are still heavily based on patriarchal values (Gender Gap Report, 2006), thatincrease women’s vulnerability. In a study of male youths in Zambia (Dahlbäck, E et al, 2003) anumber of interesting concepts relating to gender norms and roles were discussed. In the area of 
1
Gender equality indicators measure the degree to which men and women are equally represented in social,educational, economical and political spheres of life
 
3gender roles in the households it was shown that men must never been seen doing ‘women’s jobs’such as household domestics, additionally it was thought that a women could never be a householdhead. In the area of economic independence, worries were expressed, if a woman becomeseconomically independent, it would threaten the male position of power. This was also reflected indecision making and boys felt that if you allow a girl to make decisions she is making a fool of you.On issues of sexual relations some boys felt that a man should have multiple girlfriends and someexpressed the opinion that they can force a girl into marriage. The boys expressed anunderstanding that they are the privileged sex in Zambia, in that they get more respect, educationand jobs, overall many shared the opinion of one boy who stated;
‘I am happy God made me a boy’ 
(Dahlbäck, E et al, 2003:56). Due to these issues in Zambia and many parts of Africa, developmentactors viewed empowering women as imperative to the future of development.
1.3. Defining Empowerment
To be disempowered is to be socially excluded. Sociologist Burchardt (1999) empirical definition of social exclusion was ‘
If an individual is (i) geographically resident in a society (ii) cannot participatein the normal activities of citizens in that society (iii) would like to participate, but are prevented  from doing so by factors beyond their control’ 
(Richardson and Le Grand, 2002:498). The process of social exclusion serves to exclude social groups from benefits and rights that are considerednormal. Often social exclusion operates from
above,
yet women’s disempowerment stems frompatriarchal structures and norms at the community level. Empowerment has been defined as
‘theexpansion in people’s ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability was previously denied to them’ 
(Kabeer, 2004:18). In this sense empowerment is about thetransformation of power relations between men and women at four distinct levels; the household,the community, the economy and the state (Odutolu et al, 2003). In summary empowerment istaken to mean a process by which women may have the opportunity to access educational,economic and health resources, to engage in decision making on an equal basis, participate insocial spaces, and over all the ability to exercise agency over their lives without their sex beingviewed as a disadvantage.

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