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Tilburg University

Women's empowerment and decision-making at the household level

Neema, Murembe

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Neema, M. (2015). Women's empowerment and decision-making at the household level: A case study of Ankore

families in Uganda Tilburg: Tilburg University

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Download date: 16. okt. 2016 Women’s empowerment and decision-making at the household level Women’s empowerment and decision-making at the household level A case study of Ankore families in Uganda


ter verkrijging van de graad van doctor aan Tilburg University op gezag van de rector magnificus, prof. dr. E.H.L. Aarts, in het openbaar te verdedigen ten overstaan van een door het college voor promoties aangewezen commissie in de Ruth First zaal van de Universiteit op woensdag 6 oktober 2015 om 16.15 uur door Clementia Murembe Neema, geboren op 2 oktober 1961 te Ishaka, Oeganda Promotor: prof. dr. Sjaak Kroon Copromotores: dr. Veerle Draulans dr. Jef Van der Aa Overige leden van de promotiecommissie: prof. dr. Joy Kwesiga prof. dr. Wouter van Beek prof. dr. Mirjam van Reisen dr. Marloes van Engen dr. Bertha Vallejo Carlos Cover drawing by Charles Murembe Cover design and layout by Carine Zebedee © Clementia Murembe Neema, 2015 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any other means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without permission of the author.

Table of contents Preface 1

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Research on women and family relations in Africa is a complex matter. It involves obtaining married people’s own viewpoints and those of several other stakeholders in order to respond to persistent gender inequalities. It was not easy to put together women’s empowerment policies and married women’s possibilities to make decisions on use, control and ownership of family resources relative to their husbands’ power. This work involved several stakeholders and approaches, which I must say, I had underestimated at first. I had delays, needed rearrangement and an entirely new planning for a better writeup management. Therefore, this research deserved more time and focused attention than I originally envisaged. It is imperative and necessary to remember the process I have gone through and therefore, thank and appreciate the efforts of several people that guided, supported and encouraged me to move on, and most important those that created the environment in which completion of this intellectual journey became a reality.

To begin with, I thank God for his mighty plans and all that I have been able to sail through to date. I am greatly indebted to Mbarara University of Science and Technology for its continued willpower, including financial, physical and psychological support towards my doctoral studies for which I registered in

2004. Sincere thanks go to Dr. Pamela Mbabazi and the NUFFIC three-month support at the University of Antwerp (Belgium) in 2008. The three months were more or less the beginnings of having a consolidated period of write-up with scholarly guidelines of Professor Marysse Stefaan of the Institute of Management-IOB and Dr. Danielle de Lame from the African Museum in Brussels. I cannot forget Professor F.B. Kayanja’s astute discussions and decisions, which kept me strong-minded and committed to this research process. Mr. Steven Bazirake, thanks for your parental encouragement and for being a friend.

In an entirely different but equally worthwhile measure, I must sincerely acknowledge the amount of work and input of my first internal supervisor, Women’s empowerment and decision-making at the household level Professor Peter Kanyandago, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs University. May your devotion and adeptness remain a gift to benefit other scholars looking up to you for guidance. I am very grateful to several volunteer anonymous readers’ contributions, but most especially to sociologists Professor Tarsis Kabwegyere and Professor Mushanga, and to my sister Imelda Mbabazi Nyinebirungi and Byambwenu John who as English teachers transformed the very first sketch into a draft copy of this thesis. I also express my special thanks to Fr. B. Zabajungu who edited the first draft into a readable script. I sincerely thank Professor J.C. Kwesiga whose discussions, guidance and expertise in gender studies helped me to analyze African feminism and emerging issues from Western perspectives of women’s empowerment. Despite your limited time as the Vice Chancellor of Kabale University, your review comments gave me insights to develop my own arguments on women’s empowerment and decision-making of women in Ankore families.

I must sincerely register my special gratitude to all my study participants whose valuable contributions and unreserved personal shared experiences in marital and family relations, considered private in Ankore traditions, are compiled in this research. Your voiced out lived experiences are a contribution to an understanding of Ankore family relations for other married couples. On a similar note, I am very grateful to Dr. Charles Muchunguzi, Dr. Rogers Bariyo and Dr. Cleophas Karooma Kansiime, staff in the Faculty of Development/ Institute of Interdisciplinary Training and Research at Mbarara University of Science and Technology who assisted me in conducting interviews and forum group discussions. Thanks for your valuable time, support and expertise in handling group dynamics, especially when we were overwhelmed with participants’ big turn-ups. Furthermore, my sincere thanks to my research assistants Mr. David Ajuna, Mr. Francis Mwijukye, Mr. Lestedio Mujuni, Mr. Andrew Musinguzi, and Ms. Carolyn Natukunda, who footed the stony hills and marshy valleys in the area of study, as they distributed and collected questionnaires, interviewed respondents and/or took notes during interviews and forum group discussion sessions. I am greatly indebted to all those that hosted my team during the field data collection. Particularly, I am grateful to Dr. Sr. Prisca Kobusingye’s hospitality for accommodating me the many times that I would be in Uganda Martyrs University for consultations with my supervisor or for private readings. The sleepless nights, as we worked on our theses, were fruitful.

As mentioned earlier, the broader perspectives of this study and the underestimation together with other life constraints of balancing this study with my job, family and social obligations, almost made me give up on this long Preface 3 overdue research. As a God-sent redeemer, Dr. Bertha Vallejo of Tilburg University came to Mbarara University of Science and Technology in 2010 to offer a refreshing ‘research methods course’ to PhD students, which rekindled my energy to complete this thesis. In a very special way, therefore, I most sincerely thank Bertha, who initiated new opportunities not only in the form of NUFFIC financial support, but also by providing a conducive reading atmosphere outside my home and work environment, and negotiated for a team of expert supervisors. This new environment exposed me to excellent library facilities, special computer packages and courses, especially a course on narratives in qualitative research, which lightened my challenges. I would not have gained all these, had it not been for Bertha’s great patience and great heart.

In a similar account, I am greatly indebted to my supervisors and mentors at Tilburg University, who willingly accepted to take me on as their student in

2012. Professor Sjaak Kroon, I must say I was really humbled by your skill to instantly conceptualize issues in my study during our first meeting. With your expertise, I was able to discover my own loopholes, and I thank you for that gift. Dr. Veerle Draulans, I was greatly motivated by your competence and patience with which you guided me to manage my study. Thanks for directing me in my learning process, in a new environment and with personal challenges.

You were not only a supervisor but also my counselor and it created a difference in my life. Dr. Jef Van der Aa, it is your experience and acumen in qualitative research that reawakened my mind to move ahead faster with my study than I could imagine. I thank you for sharing your wisdom and bringing me on board of a team of qualified qualitative investigators as a result of which I can now ably assist others. Above all, thanks for welcoming me into your home and introducing me to your family members. Surely, in Turnhout, I had a home in Europe, away from my home in Mbarara, Uganda.

I will also not forget to thank Professor Talman, a neighbor in my office in K-building 519, for his kindness to print out marked hard copy chapters of my thesis. Your benevolent assistance reduced the pressure on my eyes, which otherwise I would have gone through by reading from the computer screen.

Primrose Nakazibwe and the Ethiopian PhD colleagues with whom I was on the NUFFIC program in Tilburg University between 2012 and 2014, I would be very unfair to you if I forgot to thank you for the humane support (obuntu) that you showed to me when I lost my dear ones. It was surely a time of need and you filled the gaps as kinsmen.

As ever my family has provided unwavering support, always ready to sacrifice and push me upwards, especially the number of times I would run out of energy. Usually, it is assumed that scholarly work is a personal venture, but Women’s empowerment and decision-making at the household level this study has proved otherwise. It has proven to be a group exercise involving family members, friends and beyond. My relatives, especially Afande Miria Atuhe, the family of Dr. Posiano and Virginia Plan Mugyenyi, Spera Atuhairwe, Judith Musiime Ayebare, Carol Asiimwe, Helen Mbabazi Wairama, Stella Kentutsi, Constance Wakoba and finally my son in law Bryan Toshi Bwana, thanks a million. For the many times that you have had to host me in Kampala, take me to or wait to bring me home from Entebbe airport, usually at awkward hours. This is not a right to be taken for granted, but a privilege of having a sacrificing family network with cordial relationships.

To my children, Polyne, Daphine, Phillip and Timothy, sometimes I failed my parenting role by not always being an available and a reachable mother to you. I appreciate your understanding when the going would get tougher. I treasure and love you all, but work harder in your careers; the sky is no longer the limit. Particularly, Polyne, thanks for taking on all circumstances that necessitated you to step in my shoes and handle the joys and hardships that occurred while I was away. You proved a woman that I would love to see in my footsteps. To all my other children in the family, Rose, Angela, Julius, Mary, Earnest, the same experience must have happened; therefore the same advice applies. In the African sense, to all of you my parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and in-laws, in case you found me stressed up or not welcoming and therefore not ready to attend to you as it should be in the Ankore family relations, take it easy and forget about it.

Last, but most important, I am heavily indebted to my husband Mr. Charles Murembe for being strong and remaining supportive in all aspects, till the end of this study. I thank you for your high sense of responsibility in our family, especially in caring for our children and being there for the entire family.

Knowing the value of education, despite the terrible accident that took my sister Imelda and which almost took your life, you never lost track of our mission. You advised me to proceed with my career, leaving you in the hands of God and relatives, especially the families of Rose and David Bashakara, and Plan and Posiano Mugyenyi. For sure, I owe you a lot and by God’s grace, my rewards are in having a stable marital and family relationship together.

Mbarara, July 2015 Clementia Murembe Neema CHAPTER 1 Gender inequality and women’s empowerment

1.1 Introduction This thesis is about women’s empowerment and decision-making at the household level in Ankore families in Uganda. In this first introductory chapter I will go into the issues of gender inequality and empowerment from a more general perspective in order to provide the background information necessary to put the problem statement and research questions of this study in proper perspective.

Gender discrimination and the subordinate position of women in relation to men have not only attracted worldwide attention but have also influenced policies and guidelines to empower women for improved gender relations at international, national, local and family levels (European Commissions, 2012;

UNDP, 2012a). While my study on women’s empowerment and gender relations in decision-making is on Ankore families as a case study, gender inequality is a global problem. Empowerment of women, therefore, is advocated as a crucial intervention strategy for transforming worldwide gender inequality and discrimination against women (UN General Assembly, 1979;

UNDP, 1995). This chapter navigates global literature on gender inequality and women’s empowerment and operationalizes the concepts of empowerment and decision-making. It explains empowerment measurement challenges, states the research problem and asks the research questions that focus on women’s decision-making power relations with their husbands as a measure of their empowerment at a family or household level.

1.2 Gender inequality For centuries women worldwide have been treated differently from men in many ways, though in different contexts (Puri, 1999; Rao, 2012; Rmuse, 2011;

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