Female genital mutilation is common in Sierra Leone. Evidence indicates that empowering women provides protective benefits against female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Yet, the relationship between women’s empowerment and their intention to cut their daughters has not been explored in Sierra Leone. The aim of this study was to assess the association between women’s empowerment and their intention to have their daughters undergo FGM/C in the country.
Data for this study are from the 2013 Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey. A total of 7,706 women between the ages of 15 and 49 were included in the analysis. Analysis entailed generation of descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages), and estimation of multi-level logistic regression models to examine the association between women’s empowerment, contextual factors and their intentions to cut their daughters.
A significantly higher proportion of women who participated in labour force reported that they intended to cut their daughters compared to those who did not (91.2%, CI = 90.4–91.9 and 86.0%, CI = 84.1–87.8, respectively). Similarly, the proportion intending to cut their daughters was significantly higher among women who accepted wife beating than among those who rejected the practice (94.9%, CI = 93.8–95.8 and 86.4% CI = 84.9–87.8, respectively). A significantly higher proportion of women with low decision-making power intended to cut their daughters compared to those with high decision-making power (91.0%, CI = 89.0–92.8 and 85.0% CI = 82.2–87.4, respectively). Results from multivariate regression analysis showed that the odds of intending to cut daughters were significantly higher among women who participated in labour force (aOR = 2.5, CI = 1.3–4.7) and those who accepted wife beating than among those who did not (aOR = 2.7, CI = 1.7–4.5). In contrast, the likelihood of intending to cut daughters was significantly lower among women with high than low knowledge (aOR = 0.4, CI = 0.3–0.7), and among those aged 45–49 than among those aged 15–19 (aOR = 0.2, CI = 0.0–0.6).
The findings underscore the need to align anti-FGM/C policies and programmes to women who have undergone FGM/C, those with low knowledge, women who support wife beating and young women. Such interventions could highlight the adverse implications of the practice by stressing the psychological, health and social implications of FGM/C on its survivors.
Bibliographical noteThe authors thank the MEASURE DHS project for their support and for free access to the original data.
- Cutting daughters
- Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
- Multi-level analysis
- Sierra Leone
- Women’s intentions