Doctoral Thesis Defence Abstract for Asiimire Donath

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Globally, family patterns have been progressively changing mostly attributed to gender activism and modernisation trends. In particular, most attributes of these changes have been premised on women’s economic empowerment. This study focused on women’s employment, earning of income and control over productive resources and how the three dimensions of women economic empowerment are related to changes or not in marriage and gender roles in families found in the Ankole Sub-region.

In the face of women employment, earning of income and control over productive resources, women’s roles in a family change from expressive to co-providers.

This study employed a historical research design using phenomenological stances of qualitative research to collect data from three districts of Mbarara, Bushenyi and Kiruhura. Drawing from 17 interviews (with women rights activists, community development officers, probation officers, grade II magistrates, gender-based organisation managers, political leaders, religious leaders, local leaders) and 5 FGDs (with household heads, women in formal and informal employment), findings reveal that, women economic empowerment leads to a shift in marital entry, status and exit.

The findings further reveal that women economic empowerment causes a shift in the traditionally assigned gender roles. What needs to be studied is why most of the women have quickly taken up most of the roles that were traditionally assigned to men and some of the men are hesitant to take up some of the roles that were traditionally assigned to women.