File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

68% of males, females in SADC ’strongly agree a woman should obey her husband’

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Aug 30, 2021

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Cape Town – The over-riding finding of the South African Gender Progress Study (GPS) is that patriarchy is alive and well in all Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, and at all ages and levels of education.

The gender attitudes research shows that while 60% of women and men in the SADC region agree or strongly agree that “women and men should be treated the same”, 68% agree or strongly agree that “a woman should obey her husband”.

Other worrying findings include high percentages of those who agreed or strongly agreed that “a woman needs her husband’s permission to do paid work” (47%) and “a man should have the final say in all family matters (44%)’’.

But, with an average score of 61%, gender attitudes in the SADC are gradually changing for the better, according to the report, which forms part of a wrap up to Women’s Month. It was administered to 34 323 women and men of all age groups in 15 SADC countries between January 2019 and May 2021.

The GPS is administered by country focal networks of the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance coordinated by Gender Links to better understand different perspectives on gender equality, so as to target efforts to change attitudes and behaviour in more effectively.

The GPS consists of 25 questions that respondents either strongly agree, agree, or disagree, strongly disagree with. The responses are rated on a scale of zero (least progressive) to 100 most progressive.

On a positive note, relatively low percentages agreed or strongly agreed that “there is nothing a woman can do if her husband wants to have many girl friends” (15%); “if a man beats his wife, it shows that he loves her (14%); families should spend less money on the education of their daughters than of their sons (13%), the study showed.

It is also worrying that only 28% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that “a woman should be able to choose to terminate her pregnancy in the first three months of her pregnancy”.

In all but four other countries (Angola, Botswana, Malawi and Namibia), female respondents had higher gender attitude scores than male respondents. Overall, women scored 65% compared to men (58%).

In all age groups, female respondents had higher gender attitude scores than male respondents, indicating that female respondents of all age groups were more gender progressive than male respondents.

Men held more negative gender attitudes in relation to gender-based violence questions; sexual reproductive health rights; harmful practices questions; and general questions than female respondents.

Young people in the 18 to 25 age bracket had lower scores (59%) than respondents between the ages of 41 and 60 (61%).

’’This is disappointing in a region where the majority population are young, and high hopes are being pinned on them in the 2030 #GenerationEquality campaign,’’ the study said.

Respondents with tertiary and vocational level education had slightly higher scores (60%) than respondents with only a primary school level of education (58%).


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