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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 170-174

Participation in household decision-making among married women in rural and urban areas of Bankura, West Bengal: A comparative study


1 Department of Community Medicine, North Bengal Medical College, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, IPGMER, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Community Medicine, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Bankura, West Bengal, India
4 Department of Community Medicine, Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
5 Department of Community Medicine, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Bankura, Bankura, India

Date of Submission24-Nov-2019
Date of Decision16-Dec-2019
Date of Acceptance03-Jan-2020
Date of Web Publication9-Apr-2020

Correspondence Address:
Tanushree Mondal
Department of Community Medicine, Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_108_19

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  Abstract 


BACKGROUND: In spite of being an integral part of family and pivotal force in any kind of progress, women are traditionally less involved in decision-making at all levels.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to assess the extent of women's participation in household decision-making and find its correlates.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in rural and urban field practice areas of Bankura Sammilani Medical College, West Bengal, from January to June 2017. Married women were selected by multistage sampling. After obtaining informed consent, interview using a predesigned schedule was done at their houses regarding participation in various household-level decisions. The relationship between variables was determined by Chi-square test, unpaired t-test, and multiple logistic regression analysis.
RESULTS: Most of the participants were within 18–26 years of age and belonged to general caste of lowermiddle socioeconomic status. Majority of the participants in both the study areas were married for ≥5, homemakers with education ≥ secondary level and belonged to joint family. High level of overall participation was found among urban women than their rural counterpart. The extent of participation was statistically associated with age, occupation, and type of family in both urban and rural areas.
CONCLUSION: Women's empowerment through vocational training and creating conducive environment for availing job is important for improving women's participation in household-level decision-making.

Keywords: Decision-making, household, married, women


How to cite this article:
Biswas D, Saha SK, Sarkar AP, Mondal T, Haldar D, Sarkar GN. Participation in household decision-making among married women in rural and urban areas of Bankura, West Bengal: A comparative study. Int J Health Allied Sci 2020;9:170-4

How to cite this URL:
Biswas D, Saha SK, Sarkar AP, Mondal T, Haldar D, Sarkar GN. Participation in household decision-making among married women in rural and urban areas of Bankura, West Bengal: A comparative study. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jun 3];9:170-4. Available from: http://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2020/9/2/170/282127




  Introduction Top


Both men and women perform certain roles in the society, and hierarchies based on gender and generation determine the course of household decision-making. Women are an integral part of family and pivotal force in any kind of progress, say in socioeconomic progress.[1] Women perform different tasks depending on their socioeconomic structure, number of members in the family, the nature of professions they are involved in, and many other factors.[1] Women are traditionally less involved in decision-making at all levels. There are various family matters on which men generally take decisions. Women are quite often even not consulted.[2]

The convention in our patriarchal society is that male persons enjoy the freedom of taking decisions about all types of household and social matters and women only obey the decisions. Although this convention has been changing, it does not happen at that rate as we need.[1] Women are poor not for the lack of their ability to participate in the production process but for the lack of opportunity to participate in the production process or for nonrecognition of their housekeeping activities as productive.[3] Without active participation of women and incorporation of women's perspectives at all levels of decision-making, the goals of equality development and peace cannot be achieved.[1] A woman's power to make decisions may differ which implies that while a woman may have considerable power on some dimensions of the family life, for example, on decisions regarding childbearing, she may have at the same time very little power to decide what friends or relatives to visit or how much money she can spend.[4] With this background, the present study was conducted to assess the extent of women's participation in decision-making in different spheres at household level and find its correlates both in urban field practice area (UFPA) and rural field practice area (RFPA) of Bankura Sammilani Medical College (BSMC), Bankura, West Bengal, India.


  Materials and Methods Top


A community-based cross-sectional survey was conducted in RFPA and UFPA of BSMC from January to June 2017. The RFPA is situated in Amarkanan, Gangajalghati Block, catering a population of 4000, and the UFPA is situated at Patpur, Bankura Municipality, catering a population of 3650. There were five villages in RFPA and six slums in UFPA. Married women aged 18–45 years from both the areas willing to participate were selected for the study. Women with any history of divorce, separation, and demise of spouse were excluded.

Sample size (SS) was estimated based on the formula used for comparing two proportions, n = ([Zα+ Zβ]2 [p1q1+ p2q2]) (p1− p2) 2, where Zα=1.96 (two-tail) at 95% confidence interval (CI), Zβ=1.28 at 90% power of test, p1 and p2 were the proportions of women in urban and rural areas who participated in household decision-making (81.0% vs. 50.9%) as per the literature,[3],[5] and q1 and q2 were complements of p1 and p2. Considering 10% nonresponse, the SS was estimated to be 60 for each area of study. Hence, 60 participants were selected from each area after fulfilling the eligibility criteria.

Multistage sampling was used for selection of participants. First, two villages from RHTC and two slums from UFPA were selected by simple random sampling technique. Then, 60 households were included in the study from the selected villages and slums by systematic random sampling. If there were more than one married women in selected household, the eldest one fulfilling the selection criteria was chosen. Interview of selected women was done in their houses after obtaining informed consent.

A predesigned pretested semi-structured interviewer- administered questionnaire was used for data collection which was done maintaining confidentiality. This questionnaire regarding participation in household activity was framed based on a study done in Lucknow.[4] Part I of it contained questions pertaining to baseline information including age, religion, caste, residence, education, occupation, type and size of family, socioeconomic status (SES), duration of marriage of the participants; age, education, occupation, and addiction of husband and part II containing questions pertaining to participation of women at household-level decisions regarding household and family well-being, money-related matter, going outside home, etc., assessed by a 5-point scale. There were 24 questions, and each had 5 options – “no participation,” “some participation,” “can't say,” “to a large extent,” and “final decision.” Scale reliability coefficient and Cronbach's alpha were assessed and found satisfactory (0.922). Interview schedule was prepared in English and translated into Bengali and again retranslated into English by language experts to rectify the discrepancies. The schedule was pretested in five participants from urban and rural areas in adjacent Bishnupur Health District for necessary modifications. SES was assessed by the Modified and Updated BG Prasad Scale 2016.

Decision-making index

The index covers 24 types of activities on which women were asked to indicate the extent of their participation in decision-making. Women with no participation in the decision-making were given “0” score. A score of “1” was given if women were only informed about decision (some extent). A score of “2” was given if women cannot say. A score of “3” was given if women participated in decision-making to a large extent, and a score of “4” was given if the women took final decisions.

Hence, the highest and lowest scores were 96 and 0. The decision-making index is computed as follows: decision-making score obtained by a woman/maximum possible score of women × 100.

Ethical clearance had been taken from the Institutional Ethics Committee of BSMC, and permission was obtained from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Bankura. Informed consent of the participants was obtained with assurance of confidentiality.

Operational definition

  • Criteria for family size: Large family: ≥5 family members and small family: <5 family members
  • Criteria for level of participation: High participation: who scored ≥50% in a 5-point scale and low participation: who scored <50% in a 5-point scale.


Data were entered and codified in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Analysis was done with the help of MS Excel and statistical software SPSS 22.0 version (IBM Corp., Armonk, New York, USA). Mean, standard deviation, and proportion were used for describing data. Normality of data was tested by Shapiro–Wilk's normality test. The relationship between the level of participation and independent variables was determined in bivariate analyses using unpaired t-test, Chi-square test, and odds ratio with 95% CI. Multiple logistic regressions were used to find the strength of association of correlates with the level of participation estimating adjusted OR. P ≤0.05 was considered statistically significant at 95% CI.


  Results Top


In RFPA, most of the participants (53.3%) were within the age group of 18–26 years and belonged to general caste (45%), The husbands of the majority of participants (43.3%) were aged 27–35 years. Majority of the participants had education up to secondary level and above (48.34%), whereas 8.3% were illiterate. Most of the participants were homemakers (83.3%) and belonged to joint family (68.3%) living under lower-middle SES (50%). Majority of them were married for ≥5 years (78.3%).

In UFPA, majority of the participants were within the age group of 18–26 years (46.6%) and married for ≥5 years (73.3%). Most of the married women belonged to general caste (43.3%) and had education up to the level of secondary and above (61.7%), whereas 3.3% were illiterate. Majority of their husbands belonged to the age group of 27–35 years. Most of the participants were homemakers (70%) and belonged to small family (60%) living under lower-middle SES (56.6%).

Most of the study participants reportedly had a low level of overall participation in household and family well-being and money-related matter in both rural and urban areas, whereas most of them reported to have a high level of participation in decision-making for going outside home equally both in urban and rural areas [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of participants according to residence and overall level of participation in decision-making in various domains

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High level of overall participation in decision was seen more common among the urban women compared to their rural counterpart and so also their participation in household and family well-being, money-related matter, and going outside house. However, none of the differences was found to be statistically robust [Table 1].

In rural area, higher participation in household decision-making was statistically associated with increasing age of the respondents and their husbands, increasing duration of marriage, higher level of women literacy, occupation, and nuclear family [Table 2].
Table 2: Distribution of participants according to factors affecting overall level of participation of married women and residence

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In urban area, higher participation in household decision-making was statistically associated with increasing age of the study participants and their husbands, increasing duration of marriage, occupation, nuclear, and small family [Table 2].

Multiple logistic regressions revealed that the women belonging to lower age group, homemakers were found to have a significantly low level of participation in decision-making both in RFPA as well as UFPA. Women from nuclear family had higher participation in RFPA compared to their urban counterpart with a statistically significant difference in between [Table 3].
Table 3: Multiple logistic regressions showing correlates of overall level of participation in decision-making according to residence of the respondents

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  Discussion Top


Increased “age of women and their husbands,” “duration of marriage,” “type of family,” and “occupation of women” were all positively associated with women's autonomy in decision-making in household activities. In this study, high level of participation was associated with age of the women. A similar picture was observed in the study done by Rezapour and Ansari.[4] Pal and Haldar reported that older women participated more in decision-making process than the younger group.[6]

In the current study, women's participation in decision-making is more among working women from both rural and urban areas. A study conducted in rural Bangladesh by Sultana reported that occupation was positively related to women's decision-making power at household level.[7] Women's economic contribution to the household makes it more evident for themselves and for their husbands that they should have a say in how the money is spent. A similar result was found in a study done by Acharya et al.[8] Another study done by Bano revealed that working women have better access to resources and freedom to select their choices into different spheres of life.[9]

Duration of marriage is also associated with decision-making activity. A newly married daughter-in-law has less decision-making power in the household and she is expected to perform household duties under the supervision of her in-laws who are the primary decision-makers. A similar result has been found in a study carried out by Acharya et al. in Nepal.[7] However, the study done by Rezapour and Ansari found that there was no relationship between period of marriage and women's participation in decision-making.[4]

In the present study, type of family was found to have a strong relationship with women's participation. This is in accordance with the study conducted by Sultana and Sarmah in Assam.[1],[7] In joint family, older household members are expected to dominate household decisions as they have traditional respect from other household members. Not only do men dominate household decision-making, but also older women (especially mothers-in-law) dominate over their daughters-in-law. A daughter-in-law in a joint family is likely to have considerably less power and limited autonomy than a wife in a nuclear family.

As revealed by this study, in urban area, the family size was revealed to be associated with women's decision-making which has concurrence with the observation made in a study conducted by Kiani.[10]

In this study, education of both the women and husbands was not associated with household decision-making. However, in her study, Sultana observed that women's education has a significant effect on the level of their decision-making power at household level.[7] In the present study, SES had no role in women's decision-making activities contrary to the observation made by Rezapour and Ansari in their study which reported a positive relationship between the SES and women's participation in decision-making.[4] From a study, Kiani reported that women's occupation and the period of marriage had no effect on family decisions, and there is no meaningful statistical relationship between these two variables.[10] However, in the present study, those were found to be significant.

Contrary to the results obtained in a study conducted by Acharya et al. that rural women were significantly less likely to take part in decision-making than urban women, the current study reflected that the women of rural areas were in a transition showing no difference with their urban counterpart at least in this respect.[8] In their study, Pal and Haldar suggested that families in rural area, size of the family, caste, SES of the families, and education level of rural women had significant influences in involvement in decision-making.[6] However, in this study, those were found to be insignificant.

Limitation

The study was conducted in a limited area of Bankura district, so this result has limited external validity to the whole Bankura district of West Bengal. Noninclusion of younger women of families containing more married women might allow error in exploring compromised autonomy of younger women in the family.


  Conclusion Top


The extent of participation of married women in decision-making at household level was found to be low and limited to patriarchal ideology in both rural and urban areas. Although the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 has reported the decision-making power of women 84%, But present study revealed that the women in the study didn't enjoy autonomy in decision making up to that level. The patriarchal form of decision-making and dominance over women seemed to be continued still in the study area. In the family affairs, especially in joint family, the husband, wife, and other family members are equally important having equal responsibilities. Women's empowerment is very important for gender development issues. The importance of empowerment lies in choices, roles, and responsibilities handled by women. Improvement in their economic independence will help in increasing women's involvement in decision-making at family. In order to achieve its vocational training, education(s) conducive for availing job are the needs of the hour. Government and nongovernmental organizations may have purposeful collaboration on this issue.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Sarmah BK. The role of women in decision making in the family with special reference to Kamrup district (Assam). Int J Eng Sci Res Technol 2015;6:440-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Rashid MU, Islam MM. Women's participation in family decision making in Dumki Upazila of Patuakhali district. Agriculturists 2011;9:137-42.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Baliyan K. Factors Affecting Participation of Woman in Household Decision Making: Implication for Family Welfare and Agriculture Development; 2014. p. 4-11. Available from: https://www.indiastat.com/SOCIO_PDF/103/fulltext.pdf. [Last accessed on 2019 Oct 09].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Rezapour Z, Ansari H. Studying the factors associated with women's participation in family decision making (Case study: Northern Khorasan, Iran). Eur J Exp Biol 2014;4:553-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Bloom SS, Wypij D, Das Gupta M. Dimensions of women's autonomy and the influence on maternal health care utilization in a north Indian city. Demography 2001;38:67-78.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Pal S, Haldar S. Participation and role of rural women in decision making related to farm activities: A study in Burdwan district of West Bengal. Econ Aff 2016;61:55-63.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Sultana AM. Factors effect on women autonomy and decision-making power within the household in rural communities. J Appl Sci Res 2011;7:18-22.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Acharya DR, Bell JS, Simkhada P, van Teijlingen ER, Regmi PR. Women's autonomy in household decision-making: A demographic study in Nepal. Reprod Health 2010;7:15.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Bano S. Women and decision making in urban India: A gender geographical study of Varanasi city, Uttar Pradesh, India. Int J Eng Sci 2014;3:1-11.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Kiani M. How much are women involved in decision making in family in Iran? Sociol Study 2012;2:417-27.  Back to cited text no. 10
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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