In many cultures, women and girls do not have any power or influence in their homes. This is despite the fact that they most often manage the family and household activities and household decisions affect them the most. Daughters are then forced to assume the same role in the home as they grow up, marry, and become mothers themselves. When women are not allowed to participate in decision making in their homes, their livelihoods and that of their children may be at risk.
- In many cases the family member that has control over the largest portion of family income and assets has the greatest say in family activities. Women and girls who are not allowed to participate in economic activities are unable to acquire assets or earn an income and therefore cannot earn a say in family decisions.
- Women are put at a greater disadvantage in situations of divorce or death of their husbands. They can be left with almost nothing because the husband or his family will take family assets, leaving divorcees and widows as outcasts with no prospects to improve their situation on their own.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 in 3 women have experienced either physical or sexual abuse by their partner. But violence against women is considered a taboo topic in so many cultures, and women and girls are not able to reach out for help, forcing them into cycles of abuse and fear.
- In many communities throughout the Global South, husbands and fathers alone control when the women are allowed to leave the household and where they are to go. This severely limits a mother’s ability to provide for her own needs and the needs of her family.
- Child marriage intensifies inequality within a household, when a child is unable to complete school and find work and must marry a man who is likely significantly older than she, her prospects of ever gaining a say in family decisions is practically non-existent.
It is known that when women have a say in family decisions, especially those regarding finances, education, and health, the family often benefits on a far deeper level than when they are not. Women, especially mothers, more often have the best interests of the family as a whole in mind in these decisions. Husbands and wives working together to manage the family is proven to improve the livelihood of a family, especially in circumstances of poverty.
Promundo is a global organization working to promote gender justice and to prevent violence by engaging men and boys in partnerships with women and girls. Their programs work to create change through working with individual men and women, using campaigns and community activism to grown community support, and advocating with institutions and governments to reinforce personal and social change through policies and programs. You can see and support their work at promundoglobal.org