Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Amany Refaat


Nigeria is a patriarchal society, which puts women in subordinate positions that may prompt gender-based discrimination. While evidence of this phenomenon has been investigated in Nigeria and other African countries, no such investigation has been conducted with immigrant and first-generation Nigerian women in the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of a Nigerian woman's perceived empowerment and status on her willingness to access reproductive health services. The research questions examined views of Nigerian traditional beliefs' influence on status and how attitudes around traditional beliefs relate to access to reproductive health services and/or knowledge. Data were gathered through semi structured interviews with 9 Nigerian women in the Washington DC-Maryland-Virginia area. The women were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling. Data were analyzed using the ecological systems theory as a framework, which theorizes that a woman's status is related to her ability to access services or information; empowerment increases that access of services/information, and that traditional Nigerian beliefs have mostly positive effects on their status. However, the findings revealed that, among these 9 women, traditional beliefs did not have an overwhelming direct effect to access to services or information. Empowering women is vital for social growth, no matter what the place of origin. This study contributes to positive social change by providing a resource that demonstrates the importance of these women's contributions to society, thus helping to move society forward.