The doing and undoing of male household decision-making and economic authority in Rwanda and its implications for gender transformative programming

Erin Stern, Lori Heise, Lyndsay McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper explores two key norms that underpin intimate partner violence in Rwanda: men’s roles as economic providers and decision-making authorities in the household. It describes the political, legal and socio-economic factors affecting these norms and how they create opportunities and barriers to ‘undoing’ restrictive gender norms. Findings are drawn from an evaluation of Inadshyikirwa, an intimate partner violence prevention programme operating in Rwanda. Across three intervention sectors, 24 focus groups were conducted with unmarried and married men and women residing in intervention communities. Thirty interviews with couples and nine interviews with opinion leaders were conducted before they completed programme training designed to shift gender norms underlying intimate partner violence. The data indicate a strong awareness of and accountability to Rwandan laws and policies supporting women’s economic empowerment and decision-making, alongside persisting traditional notions of men as household heads and primary breadwinners. Transgression of these norms could be accommodated in some circumstances, especially those involving economic necessity. The data also identified increasing recognition of the value of a more equitable partnership model. Findings highlight the importance of carefully assessing cracks in the existing gender order that can be exploited to support gender equality and non-violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)976-991
Number of pages16
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Volume20
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2018

Keywords

  • Gender norms
  • Rwanda
  • intimate partner violence
  • male headship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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