Society

Female Headed Households In The Developing World And Middle East

The prevalence of female headed households ranges from less than 10% in some Middle Eastern countries to almost half in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Women play a critical role in all countries around the world. Their roles have not been recognized for a long time but with the several campaigns and movements aimed at fighting for the rights of women, the society is beginning to appreciate the role of women. Women make more than 50% of the world population today. The population of women in the rural areas is unusually high because most men are increasingly migrating to cities and towns of the world in search of employment. The high rates of migration of men to urban areas and absence of adult males has led to most households being headed by a female in developing countries. A female headed household is a family where the primary decision maker is female due to the absence of an adult male person capable of playing this role.

Countries With High Prevalence Of Female-Headed Households

Most countries in the developing world and the Middle East have a high prevalence of female-headed households. These families are headed by a mother figure, wife or a female taking care of her siblings. Zimbabwe has he highest prevalence of female-headed households with 45% of its households headed by a female. The number is higher in rural Zimbabwe compared to the urban area. Namibia, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic also have over 40% of their households headed by a female. Other countries where household heads are women include Comoros, Mozambique, Kenya, Liberia, Ghana, and Gabon with each having between 30% and 39% households headed by a female. These figures are particularly worrying because of the significant increase in some such families in the last decade.

Responsible Factors

Most of the female headed household is involuntary because they are the human-created and not as a result of natural factors. When a lady gets pregnant and is not married to the man or in the case of a divorce or separation, the woman in most cases will be left with the major responsibility of looking after the children. Migration of men in search of employment in urban areas is higher compared to the female. When men go away from home for whatever reason, the female is left with the responsibility of taking care of homes. As such they will be the primary decision makers in the family. In developing countries, life expectancy among the female is higher than that of the male. Most of the widowed women opt to stay single and take care of their families compared to men who will remarry when their spouses die. The death of male household heads has increasingly created a void in the family that has been filled by the female as household heads.

Social And Economic Implications

Culturally women are considered weaker leaders in the house. Therefore they will be discriminated in the society and those under their leadership. The males being led by her will likely rebel and not respect most of her decisions. Dual tasks of parenting and provision by a single person put a lot of constraints on the women who head households. These strains if not regulated might lead to depression, chronic diseases, and death. The high rate of unemployment among the women has resulted in an economic burden on the female heading households leading to poverty, lack of access to basic facilities such as education and health. In the Middle East, the religion and cultural norms favor men, and most and women remain disadvantaged as household leaders.

Influence On The Welfare Of The Nation

Household is a fundamental socio-economic unit of any society, transformation, and composition of a household will automatically affect the welfare of a country in general. Economic changes and social pressure continue to contribute to the high number of female-headed households, especially in developing countries. Other countries with more than 25% and less than 30% the families as headed by women are Senegal, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Nepal, Honduras, Togo, Zambia, Uganda, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Peru, Cameroun, Madagascar, DRC, Burundi, and Tanzania.

Female Headed Households In The Developing World And Middle East

RankCountry% of Households Headed by Females
1Zimbabwe 45%
2Namibia 44%
3Haiti 41%
4Dominican Republic 40%
5Comoros 39%
6Mozambique 36%
7Kenya 36%
8Liberia 35%
9Ghana 34%
10Gabon 30%
11Senegal 29%
12Rwanda 29%
13Sierra Leone 28%
14Nepal 28%
15Honduras 28%
16Togo 28%
17Zambia 27%
18Uganda 27%
19Kyrgyzstan 27%
20Cambodia 27%
21Ethiopia 26%
22Peru 26%
23Cameroon 26%
24Madagascar 25%
25DR Congo 25%
26Burundi 25%
27Tanzania 24%
28Republic of the Congo 23%
29Benin 23%
30Angola 22%
31Gambia 22%
32Malawi 22%
33Tajikistan 21%
34Philippines 19%
35Nigeria 19%
36Ivory Coast 18%
37Guinea 17%
38Niger 16%
39Indonesia 15%
40Egypt 13%
41Jordan 13%
42Bangladesh 13%
43Burkina Faso 12%
44Pakistan 11%
45Mali 9%
46Yemen 8%

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