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Becoming Female Head of a Household: By Force or by Choice?

DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1106825, PP. 1-12

Subject Areas: Public Policy, Sociology, Demography

Keywords: Routes to Headship, Female Head of Household, Single Parenthood, Bangladesh

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This study sets forth to uncover the background stories of the female heads of households i.e., the routes through which they become the heads of the household in Bangladesh context. The study included 22 purposively selected female heads from Rajshahi—a northwest district in Bangladesh. Using a semi-structured interview guide, qualitative in-depth interviewing technique was employed to gather the detailed life story of the women household heads. To generate themes, qualitative thematic analysis technique was used to analyze the interview texts. The findings suggest that the dissolution of marriage, either by the death of husband or divorce or separation, is the main reason for the development of (de jure) female headships irrespective of economic class and place of living. Only in few cases, situations like husband’s out-migration, disability and/or inability to earn an income thrust the (de facto) headship on the women. The study indicates that no woman, regardless of their class positions and places of living, take the charge of household headship willingly. As a qualitative study, the findings of the current study could be flawed by lack of generalization. The study offers empirical knowledge about the experiences of the female heads of households which could provide useful insights for the social workers and policy makers to have a better understanding about the diverse needs of female heads in Bangladesh. The route to female headship in Bangladesh is rarely studied. The current study is an attempt to fill up the study gap.

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Habib, T. Z. (2020). Becoming Female Head of a Household: By Force or by Choice?. Open Access Library Journal, 7, e6825. doi:


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