Prospects for Change: Adolescent Male Perspectives on Marital Gender Relations in Ghana

Ashley E Frost, Pennsylvania State University
F. Nii-Amoo Dodoo, Pennsylvania State University

The process of gender role socialization begins at birth the world over. From early childhood, boys and girls learn different sets of expectations, responsibilities, and personal attributes that males and females should respectively aspire to. Even the roles and expectations surrounding gendered relationships in adulthood and marriage are tied to notions of masculinity learned over the life course. In-depth interviews with 28 boys aged 12-15 in two hinterland towns in Ghana reveal the prospective notions these adolescents have formed. Even at this early age, the data demonstrate a clear recognition of the male authority that marriage conveys. The evidence is quite convincing that gender inequality intensifies as dating relationships become marriages; men garner greater control of their wives through bridewealth payments and traditional husband/wife roles. The data provide some insights into the cultural bases of the power inequities in marriage. We discuss the implications for gender equity in the future.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Inequality, Labor Force, Education, Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Religion, Policy