Agadjanian and Yabiku, “Religious Belonging, Religious Agency, and Women’s Autonomy”Victor Agadjanian1,* andScott T. Yabiku

Agadjanian, Victor and Scott T. Yabiku.  2015. Religious Belonging, Religious Agency, and Women’s Autonomy in Mozambique.  Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.  Early online publication.

Abstract: Women’s autonomy has frequently been linked with women’s opportunities and investments, such as education, employment, and reproductive control. The association between women’s autonomy and religion in the developing world, however, has received less attention, and the few existing studies make comparisons across major religious traditions. In this study, we focus on variations in levels of female decision-making autonomy within a single religious tradition—Christianity. Using unique survey data from a predominantly Christian area in Mozambique, we devise an autonomy scale and apply it to compare women affiliated with different Christian denominations as well as unaffiliated women. In addition to affiliation, we examine the relationship between autonomy and women’s religious agency both within and outside their churches. Multivariate analyses show that women belonging to more liberal religious traditions (such as Catholicism and mainline Protestantism) tend to have higher autonomy levels, regardless of other factors. These results are situated within the cross-national scholarship on religion and women’s empowerment and are interpreted in the context of gendered religious dynamics in Mozambique and similar developing settings.