Trends in Religious Affiliation among the Kassena-Nankana of Northern Ghana: Are Switching Patterns Identical by Gender?

Henry V. Doctor, University of the Western Cape
Evelyn Sakeah, Navrongo Health Research Centre
James F. Phillips, Population Council

This paper examines religious switching among the Kassena-Nankana of Northern Ghana. Analysis of longitudinal data in 1995 and 2003 shows that to a large extent, women who practice traditional religion are more likely to switch to Christianity than to Islam. Men are less likely to switch from traditional religion to Christianity or Islam. These results 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. The fact that religious preferences are changing among women but not men may be of profound social consequences for the status of women. Particularly, the fact that women are declaring their religion to be Christianity or Islam may signal a trend toward greater autonomy in the family and new aspirations, values, and behavior.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Education, Gender, Religion, Language and Culture