Rethinking Gender and Empowerment: A Case Study of Domestic Violence in Peru

Joseph Svec, University of Minnesota
Tanja Andic, University of Minnesota

Feminist scholars have critiqued the conflation of empowerment with individualized status in studying domestic violence for placing the burden on women as agents of both development and social change. Using the Peru Demographic and Health Surveys (PDHS), our paper utilizes these critiques of development and empowerment theory and seeks to show how overly Westernized notions of empowerment can obscure relationships between individual, household, and societal contexts with one's risk of experiencing violence. In Peru, households with more egalitarian decision-making structures lower the risk of violence while women with higher earning status relative to their partners increase that risk. Further, our findings suggest that domestic violence does not operate purely at an individual level as particular contexts can increase the risk of violence but that effect can be mediated by household power dynamics.

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Presented in Session 76: The Causes and Consequences of Gender-Based Violence