An Integrated Approach to Increasing Women’s Empowerment Status and Reducing Domestic Violence: Results of a Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial in a West African Country

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Abstract

Objective: This is the first experimental study testing the effects of an economic intervention alone and in combination with a family focused component, on women’s empowerment status and family violence in Burkina Faso. Method: The 3-arm cluster randomized controlled trial with baseline and 1-year follow-up included 360 ultrapoor married women from 12 villages. Villages were randomized to the 3 study arms: economic intervention for women (Trickle Up/TU), a combination of economic intervention and family coaching (Trickle Up Plus), and waitlist (control arm). Analysis utilized repeated-measures mixed effects regressions. Results: Compared with the control group, there was a significant improvement in both the TU arm and the TU Plus arm in women’s financial autonomy and in quality of marital relationships. In addition, women in both intervention arms reported a significant reduction in emotional spousal violence in the past year, with the effect size greater for the combined intervention (TU Group OR = 0.28, 95% CI [0.10, 0.82], p = .02 and TU + Group OR = 0.19, 95% CI [0.06, 0.64], p = .007). Conclusions: Economic intervention shows benefits that go beyond changes in financial wellbeing and may increase women’s status and improve family relationships. Integrating psychosocial components with economic strategies may be more effective for improving women’s empowerment status in West Africa.

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