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Economic empowerment and intimate partner violence: a secondary data analysis of the cross-sectional Demographic Health Surveys in Sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Heidi Stockl, Anushe Hassan, Meghna Ranganathan, and Abigail M. Hatcher
Source: BMC Women's Health, Volume 21; DOI
Topic(s): Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Rural-urban differentials
Women’s empowerment
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: JUN 2021
Abstract: Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been recognized as a defining human rights, development and public health issue of our time. Economic empowerment is one of the most promising interventions to reduce IPV in sub-Saharan Africa, yet the evidence around economic factors that are key to ensure a reduction in IPV are still mixed. Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity on what kinds of economic empowerment works for which population group. This paper seeks a more nuanced understanding, by investigating whether the associations between indicators of economic empowerment and physical and/or sexual IPV are similar between the general population of women and among urban versus rural and young, or middle aged women versus older women. Using couples data from 25 DHS surveys across 15 countries (n?=?70,993 women and men aged 15 and above at time of survey), we analyse how household wealth, men’s and women’s education and employment status, decision making on women’s income, differences in education and employment of women and their partners and women’s cash income are associated with physical and/or sexual IPV. We also provide sub-analyses for both urban and rural areas and for women aged, 15 to 24 25 to 34 and 35 to 49. Across all surveys, 20% of women reported physical and/or sexual IPV in the last 12 months. On the one hand, our findings reinforced certain well-established patterns between women’s economic empowerment and IPV, with women’s and men’s higher levels of education and increased household wealth associated with a decrease in IPV, and women’s employment, especially if only the woman worked, and women earning more than her partner associated with an increase in IPV. Most patterns did not differ across urban and rural settings and age groups, but notable differences emerged regarding household wealth, women’s and men’s employment in the last 12 months and relative employment and education. Factors relating to women’s economic empowerment are vital in understanding and addressing IPV. Our analysis indicate however that future interventions need to consider the differing needs of urban and rural areas as well as be targeted to different age groups.