“I Bought You, I Own You!” Bridewealth and Women’s Autonomy in Ghana

Kamil Fuseini, Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS)
Francis Dodoo, Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS)

Does bridewealth affect women’s autonomy in the areas of fertility and their personal businesses differently? This study provides answers to the interrelationships between bridewealth status, women’s behaviour and women’s autonomy. The “vignette experiment” method was used to measure women’s autonomy and then test whether their bridewealth status (none, partial and full payments) affects their behaviour in the areas of fertility and business differently. It also sought to discover whether increases in the proportion of bridewealth paid make norms constraining women more restrictive and whether women have more autonomy in the domain of their personal business than in the domain of fertility. General linear models and multiple linear regression results showed that bridewealth status and women’s behaviour affects women’s autonomy. However, the results were inconsistent with the argument that the outcome effect of bridewealth on a woman’s autonomy is different for fertility and a woman’s personal life.

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Presented in Session 8: Gender and Reproductive Health