Background and Objective: Since 2009, the Burkina Faso government has launched a national policy to empower women and to better integrate gender equity in policies, actions, and programs. Research findings on women’s empowerment to support this policy are scarce, however. This paper therefore explores how socioeconomic differences shape two aspects of
women’s empowerment in the cultural and social context of Burkina Faso, namely decision-making in the household and experience of domestic violence. Reducing levels of domestic violence and improving women’s participation are important to empowering women.
Methods: Women’s participation in decision-making was assessed through three measures: involvement in decisions on woman’s own health care, involvement in decisions on major household purchases, and involvement in decisions on visits to family or relatives. Using binary logistic regression, we assessed how women’s socioeconomic characteristics shape each of the three outcome variables of decision-making, and each of four outcome variables of domestic violence—physical, emotional, and sexual violence, and psychological pressure. The study analyzed data for 9,141 cohabiting or married women who successfully completed the interview on domestic violence from the 2010 Burkina Faso Demographic and Health Survey
Results: Findings show low levels of decision-making even among educated women and women working for cash, but also very low prevalence of domestic violence. Participation in all the three aspects of decision-making is positively associated with working for cash. The more education women have, the greater their involvement is in decision-making for their own health care and for family visiting. Household wealth status has a much weaker association with involvement in decision-making. Women’s experience of physical, emotional, and sexual violence by their husbands/partners generally is weakly related to socioeconomic characteristics. Only the richest women and to a lesser extent women with formal education are significantly more likely to experience psychological pressure.