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Hon. Antwi Boasieko Sekyere
Hon. Mavis Ama Frimpong

In the region, there are 456,681 households of which 62.4 per cent are headed by males (61.2% heads, 1.2% temporary heads) and 37.6 per cent headed by females (31.4% heads, 6.2% temporary heads). In terms of household membership status however, 27.0 per cent of the males head households with 0.5 per cent temporary heads.

On the other hand, 13.4 per cent of the females are heads of households with 2.7 per cent temporary heads. The ratio of male heads to female heads is twice (2.0 times) for the region as a whole, with variations from 2.1 to 2.3 times in eight districts and 1.7 to 1.9 times in five districts.

The ratio of male to female household headship is however relatively low in Akwapim North (1.5 times) and very high in Afram Plains (3.3 times) The higher percentage of female temporary household headship may be accounted for by a higher absence of male heads due to migration and other movements within and out of the region.

At the district level, male household headship is higher than that of females in all the districts. It is around the regional average (27.0%) in all districts except New Juaben (30.7%), Asuogyaman (29.4%) and Akwapim South (28.6). Female headship is also around the regional average for females (13.4%) except in New Juaben (16.8%), Akwapim North (16.6%) and Kwahu South (15.3%).

While New Juaben records the highest household headship in the region for both males (30.7%) and females (16.8%), Afram Plains, on the other hand, has a relatively very low female household headship (7.5%), compared with the regional (13.4%), and the national (11.4%), averages.

Apart from household heads, children, of the head, especially male children, constitute the highest proportion of household members. In the Afram Plains, a little more than two out of every five children (41.9%) in the household are male. It is almost the same for West Akim (41.8%) and Asuogyaman (41.1%) districts.

It is 40.8 per cent for Suhum-Kraboa-Coaltar and 40.1 per cent for Birim North. Other relatives form another high percentage within the household, accounting for 18-20 per cent of the total household membership. Males predominate in this category. In Kwaebibirem, for example, it is 24.4 per cent males compared to 22.5 per cent females.

However, female “other relatives” predominate in West Akim (16.5%), Suhum-Kraboa-Coaltar (17%), Yilo Krobo (20.7%), Manya Krobo (22.3%) and Asuogyaman (15.6%) districts. The household composition in all the districts of the region indicates that the traditional family structure of the primary family with extended family relations is still prevalent

Marital Status

The 2000 Census classified “marital status” into married, living together, separated, divorced, widowed and never married. Only one answer was marked which referred to the individual’s marital status at Census Night. Persons who were 12 years or older were eligible to provide answers to this question. The definition of marriage includes persons in any of the following types of marriages: civil, traditional and common law/consensual.

The distribution of the population aged 15 years and older by marital status in the various districts of the region indicates that 56.3 per cent of the population 15 years and older (1,227,612,) are ‘married’, made up of married (49.2%) and consensual union (7.1%).

There are also 29.8 per cent of never married persons and 13.9 per cent of those who have ever been in a marital union. This means that 70.2 per cent of the total population 15 years and older (1,227,612) are, or have ever been, in a marital union.

There are more females in consensual unions than males. Manya Krobo has the highest (19.3%) proportion of females in consensual marriage followed by Birim North (14.9%) and Yilo Krobo (13.5%) These levels are unusually high compared with Birim South (3.7%), and Kwahu South (3.9%) but the reasons are not immediately clear.

A higher proportion of females than males are in consensual union in all the districts. The proportion is highest in Manya and Yilo Krobo where, incidentally, the margin between males (11.4% Yilo and 16.3 Manya) and females (13.5% Yilo and 19.3% Manya) is closest.

The percentage of married males is highest in Birim South (53.7%), Kwahu South (53.1%) and Kwaebibirem (52.9%). It is lowest in the two Krobo districts, Manya (38.1%) followed by Yilo (42.3%). The percentage of married females is highest in Afram Plains (61.2%) followed by Kwaebibirem (54.9%), Birim South (54.6%) and West Akim (53.4%). The lowest percentages of married females are in Manya Krobo (36.5%) and Yilo Krobo (41.4%).

While an almost equal proportion of males and females are married the incidence of widowhood is four times as high for the females compared with the males. This varies from 5.2 times in New Juaben, 4.9 times in Birim South, 4.6 times in Akwapim South, to the lowest in Kwaebibirem (3.1 times).

The pattern for the divorced is similar to that for the widowed, with higher proportions of female divorcees than male, in all the districts. For the region as a whole, there are 1.8 times as many female divorcees as males, with variations from 2.1 times in Birim South, New Juaben and Kwahu South, to 1.2 times in Afram Plains. The pattern for the separated is similar to that of the divorced and widowed.

Thus, the status of ever been, but no more, married, with all its consequences, are heaviest on females in the region. Apart from not benefiting from the mutual support and companionship that marriage offers, females who are no more in marital unions in the region are exposed to a variety of burdens for which there are at present no effective mitigating programme packages. Marriage itself presents challenges, but being no more in a marital union presents greater challenges, for females in the region.

The proportion never married is high for both males (37.1%) and females (23.0%) and in all districts, there is a higher proportion of never married males than females. The proportion of the never married males varies from New Juaben (49.1%), followed by Asuogyaman, Akwapim North and South (39.1% each) to the lowest in Kwaebibirem (32.0%). New Juaben equally recorded the highest percentage of never married females (34.0%) followed by Asuogyaman (26.1%), Akwapim South (25.2%) and the lowest in Birim North (18.7%).

The relatively higher proportion of never married males and, especially females, is a clear indicator of the increasing tendency of the youth to delay entering permanent marital unions. This has important implications for the already declining fertility in the region.

It is to be noted, however, that in the context of the Eastern Region, being never married, does not necessarily imply not having a child. Given the current social, financial and housing conditions, the category “never married “is likely to increase for both sexes with accompanying important demographic and social consequences for the region.

Even though there is a legal minimum age prescribed for marriage, the 2000 Census data indicate that there are children; especially girls below age 15 years, who are in marital unions. Out of 158,395 children between ages 12-14 years, 1.5 per cent are married.

Among the districts, Afram Plains has the highest proportion (2.7%) of married girls compared with 1.9 per cent for boys. In spite of the relatively low proportion of married children, attempts should be made to have children kept in school to prepare them for a fruitful life in adulthood, instead of their getting into, early marriages for which they are unprepared for.

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