Religious Affiliation among the Kassena-Nankana of Northern Ghana: Do Switching Trends Differ by Gender? (pp. 123-136)
Authors: (Henry V. Doctor, Evelyn B. Sakeah, James F. Phillips, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Population and Family Health, New York, New York, USA, and others)
Abstract: Religious preference is undergoing major changes in rural Sahelian Africa, with profound consequences for customs that are grounded in traditional belief systems. We examined religious trends among the Kassena-Nankana of Northern Ghana. Analysis of longitudinal data from 1995-2003 showed that to a large extent, women who practiced traditional religion were more likely to change their religion than men. Those who abandoned traditional religion were more likely to choose Christianity than Islam, and women who changed religions were more likely than men to choose Christianity over Islam. These results may suggest that the traditional role of patriarchy is diminishing, and a rapid transition in the shift from traditional religion is a major component of the erosion of traditional social institutions. More rapid changes in religious preferences among women than men may have social consequences for the status of women, signalling a trend toward greater autonomy in the family and new aspirations.