Women's Autonomy and Experiences of Violence in Three African Countries

Kim Deslandes, Université de Montréal
Lauren Gaydosh, Princeton University

There is a rich history of the study of women’s autonomy in the field of demography, particularly regarding its role in fertility outcomes. Women’s autonomy is associated with parity, contraceptive use, and in more recent work, with children’s health outcomes and health services utilization. However, despite its importance and popularity there is surprisingly little consensus on how to measure women’s autonomy. Using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys, this study examines the relationship between women’s autonomy and violence in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe. First we examine the predictors of women’s autonomy. Next we analyze the relationship between various aspects of women’s autonomy and experiences of violence and discover that women who have greater autonomy are more likely to experience emotional, physical and sexual violence. Finally, we investigate the implications of including experiences of violence in measures of women’s autonomy.

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Presented in Poster Session 2