Socio-economic and demographic determinants of female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa: analysis of data from demographic and health surveys.

Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Reproductive health, 2020, 17, (1), pp. 162
Issue Date:
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Owing to the severe repercussions associated with female genital mutilation (FGM) and its illicit status in many countries, the WHO, human rights organisations and governments of most sub-Saharan African countries have garnered concerted efforts to end the practice. This study examined the socioeconomic and demographic factors associated with FGM among women and their daughters in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).


We used pooled data from current Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2018 in 12 countries in SSA. In this study, two different samples were considered. The first sample was made up of women aged 15-49 who responded to questions on whether they had undergone FGM. The second sample was made up of women aged 15-49 who had at least one daughter and responded to questions on whether their daughter(s) had undergone FGM. Both bivariate and multivariable analyses were performed using STATA version 13.0.


The results showed that FGM among women and their daughters are significantly associated with household wealth index, with women in the richest wealth quintile (AOR, 0.51 CI 0.48-0.55) and their daughters (AOR, 0.64 CI 0.59-0.70) less likely to undergo FGM compared to those in the poorest wealth quintile. Across education, the odds of women and their daughters undergoing FGM decreased with increasing level of education as women with higher level of education had the lowest propensity of undergoing FGM (AOR, 0.62 CI 0.57-0.68) as well as their daughters (AOR, 0.32 CI 0.24-0.38). FGM among women and their daughters increased with age, with women aged 45-49 (AOR = 1.85, CI 1.73-1.99) and their daughters (AOR = 12.61, CI 10.86-14.64) more likely to undergo FGM. Whiles women in rural areas were less likely to undergo FGM (AOR = 0.81, CI 0.78-0.84), their daughters were more likely to undergo FGM (AOR = 1.09, CI 1.03-1.15). Married women (AOR = 1.67, CI 1.59-1.75) and their daughters (AOR = 8.24, CI 6.88-9.87) had the highest odds of undergoing FGM.


Based on the findings, there is the need to implement multifaceted interventions such as advocacy and educational strategies like focus group discussions, peer teaching, mentor-mentee programmes at both national and community levels in countries in SSA where FGM is practiced. Other legislative instruments, women capacity-building (e.g., entrepreneurial training), media advocacy and community dialogue could help address the challenges associated with FGM. Future studies could consider the determinants of intention to discontinue or continue the practice using more accurate measures in countries identified with low to high FGM prevalence.
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