Exploring Women’s Empowerment through Asset Ownership and Experience of Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is widespread globally, with an estimated one-third of women aged 15 years and over experiencing physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Economic empowerment, or the financial standing of women, is often thought to protect against IPV, signalling sufficient economic autonomy to leave abusive situations or to prevent abuse. Asset ownership is one measure of economic empowerment, and can convey substantial agency as a wealth store, especially for large productive assets, such as agricultural land or home ownership. However, women’s increased economic empowerment may increase the risk of IPV, if men use violence to obtain resources from women, or in settings in which women’s financial autonomy may be seen to challenge customary norms, whereby men may use IPV to assert dominance.

To learn more about this relationship, a recent study used nationally representative data from 28 countries to explore women’s house and/or land ownership and reported experience of IPV in the past 12 months. This is possibly the first study that provides comparative results on this relationship across several countries. One of the study’s strengths is its use of population-based data, which allows for greater generalization of the findings. In addition, the study used quasi-experimental methods, which go beyond estimating simple correlations and instead attempt to account for inherent bias in the estimated relationship in an effort to strengthen conclusions regarding causality of the observed relationships.

Published 2019-01-11