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ASSESSMENT OF THE HARMFUL CULTURAL PRACTICES AFFECTING THE HEALTH OF RURAL WOMEN: A STUDY OF COMMUNITY BASED WOMEN ORGANISATIONS IN EBONYI STATE

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Abstract

Harmful cultural practices have been identified as significant causes of disability and deaths particularly among women of reproductive age in developing countries. Hence, the researcher conducted this study on the assessment of harmful cultural practices (HCPs) affecting the health of women in Ebonyi State using community women organizations as target population. To guide this study, five research questions were posed and three null hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance. Descriptive survey design was adopted in this study. The population for this study comprised 11,424 members of the three hundred and twenty seven registered communities based women organizations in the thirteen Local Government Areas that make up the three senatorial zones of Ebonyi State. The sample consisted of sixty-five purposively selected community based association which has 1,962 registered members drawn from six out of the thirteen LGA’S selected for the study. The study employed multi-staged sampling technique. The selection of the sample was based on 40 per cent of the entire population from the purposively selected local government Areas in Ebonyi State. For the qualitative data a systematic sample size of twelve women from each group of Community Based Organization were used for Focus Group Discussion (FGD). A one hundred and sixty two questionnaire items on the Assessment of Harmful Cultural Practices (AHCPs) arranged in five sections was developed, validated and used for quantitative data collection. A Focus Group Discussion guide (FGDG) based on the five research questions were constructed by the researcher for data collection. Data collected were analysed using percentages, weighted means and standard deviation. The Focus Group Discussions were qualitatively analyzed. Among the major findings were that majority of the respondents were educationally disadvantaged. (2) it was confirmed from the study that harmful cultural practices such as early marriage, female genital mutilation, widowhood practices and nutritional taboos existed and were practiced in their different locations. The opinions of respondents to the questionnaire were similar to those of the discussants during the ( F G D) sessions. It was recommended among other things that women should be educationally empowered. This would enable them to challenge those discriminatory attitudes and cultural practices which has held them captive, such as not participating in decision-making process in issues concerning their welfare which has hindered them from being integrated into the whole spectrum of community development programmes. Education empowerment of women will pave way to their social economic and political empowerment.