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Gender-based Violence in the Developing World

Countries with lower levels of economic development tend to witness more incidents and intensity of violence against women. Gender-based violence is more prevalent in countries that have faced a history of colonization, ethnic-based oppression, and homophobia, as well as where there are higher levels of inter-personal violence, and weak or ineffective state or law enforcement institutions. Additionally, gender-based violence may be further linked to economic inequality between men and women, since female employment can increase a woman’s autonomy and intra-household bargaining leverage.

Gender-based violence produces a variety of negative impacts for both the individual and the community, including chronic illnesses, depleted mental health, decreased sexual and reproductive health, physical injury, and even death. Past research on intimate partner violence has largely focused on identifying individual risk factors, reactive interventions, and interventions in medical settings, leaving a need for preventative interventions that consider the social, economic, cultural, and political mechanisms driving violence.

In this early-stage initiative, team members aim to better understand the larger context of violence against women, as part of a broader system that encourages a wide range of oppressive and violent behaviors toward women within the household, workforce, and broader community. The initiative will examine how social, political, and judicial institutions have enabled and shaped responses to gender-based violence.

The initiative will develop common survey instruments to measure difficult-to-quantify behaviors, including underlying forms of masculinity that sustain gender-based violence. Team members will also seek to develop common interventions to change social norms associated with masculinity. The goal is that these interventions will help to reduce violence against women, increase the ability to participate freely in the economy, and promote gender equality and equal access to justice in the future. The initiative will first focus on Latin America and the Middle East.

Core Faculty Members

For more information about the initiative, please contact King Center Executive Director Jessica Leino at