Individual and Contextual Dimensions of Religion and Women's Autonomy in Mozambique

Scott T. Yabiku, Arizona State University

Women’s autonomy is an important indicator of well-being, and it has frequently been linked with women’s opportunities and investments, such as education, employment, and reproductive control. The association between women’s autonomy and religion, however, has received less research attention, and the nature of this relationship is still debated. Our contribution in this paper is to examine religion at both the individual and contextual level and to explore the implications for the autonomy of women. The setting for our research is southern Mozambique, a largely Christian area which is characterized by considerable denominational diversity. By taking advantage of a unique data collection that enumerated all congregations in the study area, we operationalize the contextual influence of religion as the congregational density of churches in women’s communities. We find that both individual and contextual dimensions of religion have stronger influences in rural areas than urban areas.

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Presented in Session 194: Female Empowerment: Measurement