Understanding women's decision making power and its link to improved household sanitation: the case of Kenya

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Women experience many motivational drivers for improving sanitation, but it is unclear how women's role in household decision making affects whether a household opts for better sanitation. We analyzed the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2008/2009 with a representative sample of 4,556 married and cohabiting women to examine the association between women's decision making power in relation to that of partners and the type of sanitation facilities used by household members. The independent effects of respondents’ education, employment status, and socioeconomic status on the type of sanitation facilities were also explored. The direct measurement of women's ability to influence sanitation practice was not available. To address this problem, this study used proxy measures of women's decision making power in the household. The results of this study revealed that women's decision making power for major household purchases was positively associated with households having better sanitation (p < 0.05). The findings suggest that increased gender equity could potentially have spillover effects that result in more households opting to improve their sanitation conditions.

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