y and Gender-Based Violence, Identity, and Development: Initial Explorations

Nata Duvvury and Srinivas Raghavendra
Gender-Based Violence, Identity, and Development: Initial Explorations
Gender, or the socially constructed roles and responsibilities of men and women, defines
the power relations between the two sexes in terms of access to economic, social and
political power. The power imbalance between men and women circumscribes the
opportunities, voice, and agency of women. Further the power relations are reinforced
through gender conflict, or gender based violence which women experience as a daily
reality in their lives.
Development discourse is increasingly cognisant of the critical role of gender inequality
in achieving and sustaining development outcomes including increased income,
decreased social exclusion, and democratic governance. There is a divergence of opinion
whether gender inequality actually facilitates or retards economic growth. Several studies
of the experience of the South-east Asia tiger economies conclude that gender inequality,
particularly in terms of gender wage gap, indeed facilitated economic growth (for
example Seguino, 2000). On the other hand, the negative impact of gender inequality on
growth is a widely accepted conclusion of numerous studies that have focused on gender
inequality in education (Klasen, 1999).
Other recent evidence indicates that economic growth, on the whole, is good for women,
especially in terms of educational attainment and participation in political processes (see
Forsthye et. al. 2000) However, the impact on employment opportunities is more
debatable as the impact to gender wage gap is not conclusive. Apart from economic
growth what influences the increase in secondary school education or women’s economic
participation? Cross section analysis of countries by GDP indicates a correlation between
a measure of gender inequality and level of income. However there are outliers such as
Saudi Arabia – high GDP but low gender equality and Sri Lanka - low per capita GDP
and high gender equality. So the question is what, apart from economic growth,
Dr. Nata Duvvury is with the International Centre for Research on Women in Washington DC and is the
corresponding author for this paper. Her email address is [email protected]
Dr. Srinivas Raghavendra is in the Department of Economics, J. E. Cairnes Graduate School of Business
and Public Policy, in NUIG and his email address is [email protected]
influences the increase in secondary school education or women’s economic
participation? A recent study (Morrison and Jutting, 2004) explores this further through
specifically unpacking the pathways by which women’s economic roles expand. The
study maps out the pathways of the relation between economic development or GDP per
capita, social institutions and the economic role of women. The main findings of this
study are that a) Social institutions are associated to women’s economic roles in a
statistically significant way; b) And they account for a large share of variation of GDP
across countries; and c) But also that social discrimination of women does not
monotonically decline in relation to GDP growth.
In summary, while economic growth may have an impact on certain markers of gender
equality, it does not mean that overall gender equality is realised. This suggests that in
fact a more fundamental understanding of how social institutions change with economic
growth and development is required. An inquiry into social institutions would lead us to
deeper question of how society’s rules and norms affect and be affected by the process of
Shifting society’s rules and norms requires that power asymmetry needs to be at the heart
of the development discourse interested in addressing gender equality. Violence
experienced by women is a fundamental expression of power imbalance between men
and women and is widely recognised as fundamental rights violation. However there is
less attention to gender-based violence as a development issue and its potential impact on
the sustainability of a nation’s development trajectory.
In this paper we shall first discuss the extent and consequences of gender-based violence,
with a particular focus on intimate partner violence. We shall then turn our focus onto the
economic costs of intimate partner violence specifically discussing the impacts on
household economy, labour force participation and productivity. We shall then explore
the linkages between gender-based violence and identity with a particular emphasis on
masculine identity and its conceptualisation. Finally, in section 4, we conclude with a
brief elaboration on the potential links between gender-based violence, identity and
Section 1: Gender-Based Violence:
Definition and Prevalence
Gender-based violence is a continuum of acts which together constitute a pattern of
behaviour rooted in systemic and structural discrimination. The Declaration on Violence
Against Women, 1993 elaborates further the structural dynamics underlying violence
against women:
“[VAW] is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and
women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by
men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, that violence against
women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a
subordinate position compared with men.” (United Nations, 1993, DVAW, Article 1)
Based on this understanding of the link to discrimination and gender power imbalance,
the United Nations defines “gender-based violence” as violence against women which
includes any act "that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological
harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary
deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life." In practice, violence
against women is a continuum and encompasses an array of abuses targeted at women
and girls over the life course ranging from sex-selective abortion to the abuse of elder
women. Globally, the main form of violence experienced by women within the family
globally is intimate partner violence which includes physical, sexual and psychological
According to the WHO multi-country study of 10 countries, the lifetime prevalence of
physical violence by an intimate partner ranged between 13 percent and 61 percent, with
most sites falling between 23 percent and 49 percent; the lifetime prevalence of sexual
violence by an intimate partner was between 6 percent and 59 percent, with most sites
falling between 10 percent and 50 percent; the prevalence of physical or sexual violence,
or both, by an intimate partner was between 15 percent and 71 percent (WHO, 2005).
These findings are consistent with a previous review of 50 population-based studies in 36
countries, which showed the lifetime prevalence of physical violence by intimate partner
ranged between 10 percent and over 50 percent (Heise, et. al., 1999). In a multi-country
population-based cross-sectional study conducted in Chile, Egypt, Philippines, and India,
Ramiro, et al. found that the lifetime prevalence of severe psychological violence ranged
from 10.5 percent in Egypt to as high as 50.7 percent in Chile (Ramiro, et. al.,2004).
Research indicates that all women are vulnerable to intimate partner violence. However
the vulnerability to violence is exacerbated by specific aspects of identity such as race,
ethnicity, age, disability, class, caste and sexual orientation. In many cultures, women
belonging to ethnic or racial groups that are considered to be outside the mainstream are
doubly vulnerable to violence (Crenshaw, 1991).
The increased vulnerability to violence of specific groups is due in large part due to the
fact that these very social groups face increased risk of poverty, cultural discrimination,
and social inequity. For example African-Americans are more likely to be poorer than
other communities within the United States, have less education, and less likely to have
access to state institutions. A recent study establishes that “Among the contextual
variables consistently associated with increased risk for violence and abuse in African
American women are socioeconomic (poverty, low income), socio-environmental
[including neighbourhood poverty], problem drinking and illicit drug use, especially by
perpetrators, and relational factors” (Campbell, et. al., 2002).
Impacts of Gender-based Violence
Gender-based violence, and particularly intimate partner violence, has far-reaching
consequences not only for women themselves but for their children and society as a
whole. Estimates from the World Bank (1993) suggest that women lose an average of one
in five disability-adjusted life years during their reproductive years because of violence;
domestic violence and rape account for 5 percent of the total disease burden for women
in developing countries and 19 percent in developed countries (World Bank, 1993). The
Council of Europe in 2002 declared violence against women a major cause of death and
disability for women 16 to 44 years of age and called it a public health emergency
(Chinkin, 2005, p. 44). Violence places women at higher risk of poor physical and
reproductive health outcomes, including pelvic inflammatory disease, STDs, HIV/AIDS,
bladder infections, chronic pelvic pain, and adverse obstetric outcomes (Heise, 1993).
Abused women also show poorer mental health and social functioning (Laffaye,
Kennedy, and Stein, 2003, and Paranjape, Heron and Kaslow, 2005). Women
experiencing violence are more likely to report lifetime use of psychoactive drugs and
illicit drugs, sexual dysfunction, suicide attempts, post-traumatic stress and central
nervous system symptoms (Cohen and Maclean, 2004, and Silverman, et. al., 2001).
A serious aspect of violence within intimate relationships is its intergenerational nature.
Across many studies exploring factors that increase the risk of violence, childhood
experience of violence emerges consistently as a risk factor for experiencing or
perpetrating violence in adulthood. There are also direct consequences on children as
those who witness violence are significantly more at risk for health problems, anxiety
disorder, poor school performance and violent behaviour. Research has also found that
exposure to chronic violence is associated with lower cognitive functioning and poor
school performance (Edleson, 1999). A study in Nicaragua found that 63 percent of
children of female victims of violence had to repeat a school year and left school an
average of four years earlier than other children (Larrain, Vega, and Delgado, 1997).
Violence against women is a complex social, economic, and development problem,
whose consequences touch every corner of society.
Section 2: Economic Costs of Gender-Based Violence
The impact of violence has short- and long-term effects across individuals, communities,
and societies that are both economic and social in nature. The costs of intimate partner
violence include the following four dimensions:
Direct costs refer to the value of goods and services used in treating or preventing
violence. The costs include service-related costs as well as costs of programmes
for prevention and advocacy.
Non-monetary costs capture human costs, including increased suffering,
morbidity and mortality; abuse of alcohol and drugs; and depression.
The broader economic effects of violence against women are described as
economic multiplier effects and include such aspects as increased absenteeism;
decreased labour market participation; reduced productivity; lower earnings,
investment and savings; and lower inter-generational productivity.
Social multiplier effects are described as the impact of violence on interpersonal
relations and quality of life. These include the effect on children witnessing the
violence, reduced quality of life, and reduced participation in democratic
In terms of an economic multiplier there is emerging evidence that intimate partner
violence has significant employment and productivity effects through limiting women’s
labour force participation, increasing absenteeism, tardiness, job loss and turnover.
The relationship between domestic violence and employment, as well as economic
activity in general, is complicated by several factors. One important factor that
contributes to this complexity is the timeline. While schooling ends before marriage and
education is constant thereafter, employment changes over time. Therefore, employment
status may be affecting domestic violence, but, in turn, domestic violence may be
affecting employment status. This constraint makes it extremely difficult to unravel
cause vs. affect in the relationship between employment and domestic violence,
especially with cross-sectional data.
Cross-sectional studies from the US indicate that women experiencing intimate partner
violence are as likely to be employed as non-victimised women. Review of the various
studies available leads to a conclusion that intimate partner violence does not “affect
employment status; rather, it affects the victim’s ability to sustain consistent employment
for long periods of time” (Swanberg, Logan and Macke, 2007, p.292). For example
several studies suggest that women victimised in the past or current year are less likely to
maintain employment at the same level; one study of 286 women noted that “women who
were victimised by male intimate partners during the previous year had only one third the
odds of maintaining employment for at least 30 hours per week for 6 months or more
during the subsequent year as compared to women without victimisation experiences”
(Browne, et.al., 1999, p. 417; see also Lloyd, 1997; Lloyd and Taluc, 1999).
The impact of violence on work performance is far more extensive, particularly in the
West, and overall more conclusive. Productivity is difficult to measure but several studies
using job absenteeism, tardiness, and ability to concentrate as proxy for productivity
reported that productivity of women experiencing intimate partner violence was
compromised (Brush, 2000, 2002; Raphael, 1996; Stanley, 1992; Swanberg et al., 2005;
Swanberg and Logan, 2005). Many women reported absenteeism due to intimate partner
violence, and in one study 54 per cent of the women surveyed reported missing work, on
an average missing 3 days of work per month because of injuries, depression, or shame
(Freidman and Couper, 1987). With respect to tardiness, studies conducted to date,
mostly using small samples of employed women experiencing violence, indicate that
50% to 65% reported being late for work or leaving work early because of the
victimisation (see, e.g., Friedman & Couper, 1987; Raphael, 1996; Shepard and Pence,
1988; Swanberg and Logan, 2005). There is equally extensive evidence that many
women report the inability to focus on work. For example, Swanberg et al. (2005) found
that a majority (71%) of employed or recently employed women in their survey reported
an inability to concentrate at work because of the abuse. Another important impact that
has been highlighted in the literature is the impact on job loss or turnover (Riger et al.,
2002; Romero, Chavkin, Wise, and Smith, 2003; Sable et al., 1999; Shepard and Pence,
1988; Stanley, 1992; Swanberg and Logan, 2005). A longitudinal study of 504 lowincome mothers of children with chronic illness) found that women with history of abuse
were more likely to lose a job because of health issues than women with no experience of
violence: 26% versus 10%, respectively (Romero, et.al, 2003). The higher job turnover
may contribute to women experiencing intimate partner violence having a lower earning
capacity and more limited occupational mobility as compared to women not experiencing
There are few studies that have examined the economic impacts of intimate partner
violence in developing countries. However one survey of 10,000 households in India
broadly noted trends similar to the studies cited above in terms of employment and
productivity impacts. The study indicated that women’s employment was statistically
insignificant in terms of correlation with employment, but the coefficients suggested that
employed women are more likely to experience wife-beating (Duvvury and Allendorf,
2001). The study also attempted on a small pilot basis to estimate the economic costs of
violence to the household economy in terms of lost income due to missing paid work and
inability to do household work. About 91 women reported the number of incidents of
physical violence they experienced in the last year and the days of missed work per
incident. On an average, women reported missing 6.88 days of paid work and 6.87 days
of household work per incident of physical violence. In addition to the loss of workdays
by women, violence had an impact on the man’s ability to work. 42 per cent of the
women reported that their husbands either left home or missed work. The mean number
of days that men missed work per incident of violence was 9.84 days and the days they
left home were 7.58 days (ICRW/INCLEN, 2000). In addition to missed work, many of
the women reported chronic back pain, pelvic pain, headaches, dizziness, and mental
stress. Several of the women who run small teashops or did home based informal piece
work complained that they could not maintain concentration nor work at the pace they
had before the violence. Overall the monetary costs of violence for household economy,
including loss of income and health expenses including hospitalisation and medicines,
came to about Rs. 2000 per incident of violence or about 25 per cent of monthly income
of a poor household. This very preliminary data highlight the potentially high cost of
intimate partner violence for households, particularly poor households. A severe incident
could push the household into a severe economic crisis – pushing the family into debt,
undermining food security, limiting asset accumulation and restricting children’s
educational opportunities. At the household level, intimate partner violence can
potentially reverse positive benefits of development policies and programmes and even
jeopardise sustainability of development outcomes.
Intimate partner violence has also important implications for the macro-economy. The
labour force participation and productivity impacts translate into a drain on aggregate
resources of the economy. For example a study by the Inter-American Development Bank
in Chile and Nicaragua in 1999 examined the impact of intimate partner violence on
women’s earning capacity. The study estimated that in Chile, all types of IPV reduced
women’s earnings by $1.56 billion (more than 2 percent of Chile’s gross domestic
product (GDP) in 1996); and in Nicaragua, earnings were reduced by $29.5 million
(about 1.6 percent of the 1996 GDP of Nicaragua). In both countries, abused women
earned far less than non-abused women. Apart from the “missing GDP”, there is also the
impact of lowered earnings on savings rate of household and potentially on the
investment rate.
Available studies indicate that aggregate estimates of cost are quite high. A 1995 study in
Canada by Greaves, Hankivsky and Kingston-Riechers found that the total annual cost to
abused women and government agencies in Canada due to IPV is more than $4.2 billion
(Canadian). Stanko et al. (1998) focused on one local municipality and estimated the
costs to be in the range of 5-7.5 million pounds (British). Walby (2004) estimated
national aggregate costs and found that the total cost for the United Kingdom was 23
million pounds (British). Estimates of costs in the United States have ranged from $3.5
billion to $5.8 billion to $12.6 billion and $67 billion . The differences in the estimates
are due to the range of costs included in the estimation. For example, the Miller, et.al,
estimate is higher than other U.S. estimates because they affix a monetary value to pain,
suffering, and loss of quality of life. Walby (2004) also found that the monetary value of
“human and emotional costs” is more than double all costs of service provision and loss
of economic output.
Overall, IPV against women costs individuals, families, communities, and countries
millions of dollars in health care, police, and legal costs, and direct economic costs such
as lower accumulation of human capital, lower productivity, lower rates of savings, and
lower rates of investment .
Poverty and Violence
The relationship between poverty and intimate violence has also been found in different
countries. In India, for example, women in poorer households and belonging to lower
caste were more likely to experience intimate personal violence (Krishnan, 2005). A
study in Pakistan found poor men were almost 3 times more likely than rich men to
physically abuse their wives (Fikree and Razaak, 2005). In the Philippines, household
wealth was identified as a strong predictor of intimate partner violence (Hindin and
Adair, 2002). Data from a nationally representative sample in China showed the
significant risk factors for wife abuse included low female contribution to household
income and low male socioeconomic status (Parish, Wang, and Laumann, 2004). A
longitudinal study in US among 265 women leaving a domestic violence shelter, found
that participants who lacked financial resources were more likely to be re-abused over the
next 2 years than women who were better off (Bybee and Sullivan, 2002).
The consequences of violence, especially the economic impacts, can in fact reinforce this
association with poverty. With a reduction in household income and impacts of children’s
education and earning potential, violence can in fact drive households into poverty or
undermine options for upward mobility. In other words, there is potentially a cyclical
interaction between violence and poverty with enormous implications for the
development process.
Section 3: Links between Identity and Violence
The underlying dynamic of gender based violence is rooted in the imbalance of power
between men and women arising from gender norms. The perception of women as male
property has been used to justify men’s violence against women. In some Asian countries,
such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and India, where families are patriarchal and women are
inferior in social status, domestic violence is accepted as a legitimate tool to discipline
the wives and to punish women who fail to meet men’s demands (Manderson and
Bennett, 2003 and Jejeebhoy and Cook, 1997). Qualitative research from various settings
in the WHO multi-country study showed wide variation in women’s agreement with
different reasons for acceptance of violence. While over three quarters of women in the
cities of Brazil, Japan, Namibia, and Serbia and Montenegro said no reason justified
violence, less than one quarter thought so in Bangladesh province, Ethiopia, and Peru,
and in Samoa (WHO, 2005). The rates of intimate partner violence were higher in
settings where intimate personal violence is normative, and where women and men
believe that marriage grants men unconditional sexual access to their wives.
Four factors have been consistently associated with violence: norms of male entitlement
and ownership of women; male control of wealth in the family; male control of decisionmaking in the family; and notions of masculinity tied to dominance and honour (Murphy
and Ringheim, 2001). This has been testified in a study in China in that respondents
holding the above beliefs were more likely to experience intimate partner violence (Xu,
et.al, 2005). A study in Pakistan found the perception of the men's right to physically
abuse their wives was significantly associated with intimate personal violence (Fikree
and Razzak, 2005). Hindin and Adair, (2002) found that patterns of household decisionmaking were strong predictors of intimate personal violence in the Philippines. Studies in
Korea also showed that, in the patriarchal Korean society, husbands often acted violently
towards their wives to maintain hierarchal order in the family and the extent of wife
abuse was associated with the husband's attitudes towards gender roles (Doe, 2000).
Men’s expression of masculinity is thus closely linked to controlling women in their
family and ensuring that women fulfil expected roles. Women who do not fulfil required
roles or who challenge men’s actions threaten men’s masculinity, often resulting in a
violent reaction. In a study on men and marital violence in Peru, Fuller (2001) found that
it was always wives who triggered violent reactions, either because they didn’t comply
with their part of the marital contract or because they “react[ed] with energy” when the
man did not fulfil his. Situations where the wife confronted the man in front of his family
or friends were especially likely to provoke violence. Similarly, in narratives from male
youth in South Africa, violence usually occurred when youth thought that their girlfriends
were threatening their authority or otherwise “stepping out of line” (Wood and Jewkes,
Recent studies indicate that violence against women in general, and domestic violence in
particular, is intricately linked to real or perceived fulfilment of masculinities (Moore,
1994). It appears that men are more likely to use violence against women if they are
unable to fulfil a hegemonic masculinity. During the Gulf War, for example, Israeli men
were not involved in combat and rates of sexual offences and violence against women
increased in Israel (Klein, 1999). Klein suggests that men’s inability to fulfil their roles as
protectors while their country was under threat undermined their male identity and made
them more likely to use violence against women. In East Africa, socioeconomic change
has increasingly led to men’s inability to fulfil their role as breadwinner while women are
increasingly economically independent (Silberschmidt, 2001). Silberschmidt contends
this situation has resulted in men exaggerating or turning more often to other masculine
behaviours in order to compensate for their economic disempowerment. Specifically, men
use violence against women in order to express their masculine dominance and have sex
with multiple partners in order to express their masculine sexuality. In a study in Tamil
Nadu, young men of the lower caste endorsed the role of protector (of women and
community) rather than that of provider (Anandi and Jeyaseelan, 2002). As protectors
they engaged in violence within the family and community space to maintain honour.
Ethnographic research across various cultural settings indicates individuals often embody
contradictory attributes. For example, a ‘macho’ man can be aggressive, virile, controlled,
emotional, and/or generous at the same time (Cornwall and Lindiframe, 1994).
Violence, therefore, is at one level a sign of a struggle to maintain a sense of identity and
power. What then constitutes this identity and what is the interrelationship between
identity and power? The literature on identity comprises two dominant streams – identity
theory and social identity theory (see Hogg, Terry and White, 1995 and Sen, 2006). The
former argues that personal identity is a reflection of society which is complex, hierarchal
and self-organised and thus individual identity consists of multiple role identities. The
theory lays out a model of the various processes that ensure that the multiple role
identities are organised and not chaotic. Two critical processes discussed are identity
salience – ordering of role identities – and commitment – the importance of a particular
role identity for sustaining social relationships and networks. However a gap in the
theory is that it does not place or locate these role identities in broader social identities
(meta identities) such as race, gender, religion, nationality which are considered to
ascribe attributes rather than specific behavioural outcomes. Another problem is that the
model does not illuminate how the behavioural outcomes influence societal structures
and relationships with others on the one hand, and how changing social dynamics
influence ordering of role identities.
Social identity theory focuses on meta identities such as race and gender and articulates a
model for understanding how groups interact within and between as well as how
changing social dynamics impact the relative ordering of group identities. Social identity
theory builds on a characterisation of society as hierarchal and specifies how a person’s
position in the world (mediated by self) affects social behaviour. However the theory
does not explicate how the self itself is defined by the individual’s position in the social
hierarchy. For example what it means to be a man is defined by the individual’s
understanding of social expectations of male behaviour (i.e. masculinity) which is
influenced by his particular location in the social hierarchy (educated, employed, rich,
poor) at a specific point of time. Furthermore, to grasp the fluidity of social identity such
as gender requires an understanding of how the individual’s perception of expected norms
is influenced by the ability to perform which varies over time with changing social
A study in India on men, masculinity, and domestic violence suggests that patterns of
endorsement of markers of masculinity may be tied to social placement and perceived
agency of specific types, i.e. related to the individual’s sense of what norms they can and
need to practice (Duvvury, Nayak and Allendorf, 2002). In this study the broader markers
of masculinity are decomposed in to secondary and tertiary levels to gain a deeper
understanding of what constitutes each one of them. As seen in Table 1 in the Appendix,
there is a range of variation at the secondary and tertiary levels for each of the essential
markers. For example conduct as an essential marker of masculinity is endorsed by 96.8
per cent of men and this level of uniform endorsement does change when it is
decomposed in to specific attributes such as dignity, boldness courage etc. However, at
the tertiary level defining each of these secondary markers there is a significant variation
which is driven by perception of individual sense of what ought to be practiced. This
perception itself is determined by the location of the individual in the social hierarchy as
well as his sense of agency or ability to perform. For example, older men were less likely
to value traits typically defined as masculine, such as control over others, including wife,
or aspects of independence such as not taking help from others, being private, not being
swayed, voicing own opinion or in terms of sexuality to fulfilling urges first, or force
during sex. Educated men were less likely to agree to order in family or control over
wife, while they adhere strongly to not being swayed as independence and influencing
other men’s actions and decisions as power. Further, the endorsement of masculine
behaviours seen to be within personal control can also be correlated with employment
status. For example, men with a daily wage, irregular or seasonal employment have the
lowest agreement about associating masculine traits with behaviours that they believe are
not viable for their circumstances, such as power or control at the secondary level, and
control over others, influencing men, rebelling against corruption, taking initiative in
larger issues, taking risk for self-advancement at the tertiary level. In some sense they
tend to disagree with notions that have an implicit sense of agency in the public space.
However, they do endorse norms with agency in interpersonal dynamics, such as
breaking norms, talking back, and control over wife.
The study also shows that there was a cluster of markers associated with violent
outcomes within the intimate relationships. Men reporting perpetrating emotional,
physical and sexual violence in the intimate relationship had higher agreement with
independence as a marker of conduct and were more likely to agree with not taking help
from women, being private about problems, and not being swayed by others as important
characteristics of independence. Likewise, while they did not differ in endorsement of
power as important for men, they were more likely to agree with influencing women,
others being afraid, and maintaining order in the family as important characteristics of
power and control over wife as a primary characteristic of control. In terms of privilege
options, they were more likely to agree with a man being the primary decision maker,
expressing sexuality, doing, saying what he wants as important male privileges. Men
reporting violence were also more likely to report actively doing things to maintain their
interpersonal power such as using aggression, competing with others, and initiating and
controlling sexual interactions.
Section 4: Development, Identity and Violence
Development can potentially enlarge the opportunities for the individual to fulfil his or
her sense of self or it can constrain the ability of one to perform expected roles. In terms
of gender identity, development has fuelled tensions as the demands of the economy have
upturned ‘who does what’ drawing women into the labour force at unprecedented levels,
and at the same time undermining the ability of women to fulfil their expected roles. For
men also development has fractured their sense of control over their wealth, households,
and individual sense of self as the dynamics of the market increasingly dictates decision
making rather than established norms of the community.
The pressures on identity fuel gender-based violence as discussed previously. Violence
itself has enormous impacts on the development process, especially in terms of dragging
economic growth. This in turn would again create pressures for the individual to fulfil
expected roles.
This vicious cycle of development, identity and gender-based violence in fact explains
the empirical evidence of the association between gender-based violence and poverty, the
individual risk factors of alcohol and substance abuse, male unemployment, male
educational status, and childhood experience of violence.
A layer of complexity that can be brought into this picture is the multiple identities that
an individual has apart from gender. There needs to be an elaboration of how pressures of
fulfilling national, ethnic or religious identity interplay with gender and the potential
impact on gender-based violence.
Sustainable development requires therefore a clear understanding of the potential effects
of development on gender identity and gender-based violence. It particularly requires a
fuller acknowledgement of the enormous impact of gender-based violence on the
development process and an explicit commitment to addressing gender-based violence as
a specific strategy to achieve sustainable development. To identify strategies for
addressing violence, it is imperative to have a deeper understanding of masculinities,
norms of power and control and the linkages between these norms and constructs of
Table I: Agreement Rates to Masculinity Characteristics
Essential Characteristics %
Secondary Characteristics %
Physical Appearance 86.6
Physique 89.1
Tertiary Characteristics %
Body building 84.0
Sports 85.8
Physical work 91.1
Physical strength and
ability to fight 32.0
Physical strength 97.5
Facial hair 87.5
Style 94.3
What he wears 90.8
Conduct 96.8
Dignity 93.2
Retaliating when someone calls
you names or is offensive 69.3
Not quarrelling 83.2
Maintaining the privacy of your
family or community 86.8
Exercising control over others 45.8
Refusing subordination in work or
social sphere 42.6
Taking risks for others (courage) 82.4
Showing endurance in difficult
times 93.5
Rebelling against inappropriate or
corrupt behaviour 84.4
Taking initiative in larger issues that
affect your community 88.4
Fighting with four or five men 40.1
Fighting for the country 91.0
Taking risks for self (boldness) 83.6 Breaking social norms or rules 27.5
Being reckless 11.7
Talking back 65.8
Taking risks for self-advancement
Independence 92.6
Not taking help from men 44.6
Not taking help from women 56.7
Being private about your problems
Not being swayed by others 89.9
Having and voicing your own
opinion 79.4
Power 78.2
Social status from the family 86.5
Influencing other men’s actions and
decisions 42.0
Influencing women’s actions and
decisions 37.0
Others being afraid of you 27.8
Having financial resources 79.3
Having non-financial resources 78.8
Maintaining order in the community
Maintaining order in the family 85.9
Control 89.6
Responsibilities 97.4
(within the family)
(outside the family)
Control over oneself 96.3
Being demanding 22.1
Not being dominated by others 78.9
Controlling people outside the
or community 48.7
Controlling other men 34.6
Controlling women in the family
or community 71.5
Controlling one’s wife 87.1
Protecting the family 98.2
Being sexually faithful to one’s
wife 94.6
To earn money 98.7
To have children 90.6
To have a male child 44.2
Protecting the weak 91.6
Protecting women 88.3
Protecting children 89.1
Protecting the community 88.5
Protecting the country 93.3
Privileges 80.1
Being the primary decision maker
or having his say 76.0
Expressing his sexuality as he
chooses 24.6
Being able to go where he wants,
do, or say what he wants 87.1
Sexuality 89.8
Freedom to choose any type
of sexual partner 32.1
Being sexually active 90.4
Fulfilment of his own sexual urges
first without regard to his
partner’s desires 34.2
Having many sexual partners 11.2
Being married 93.5
Ability to sexually satisfy his partner 97.1 The size of his penis 71.9
Frequency and duration of
intercourse 72.1
Initiating and controlling sex 82.3
Sexual penetration by the man 85.2
Force during sex 58.2
1.Notions that 90% or more of men agree with are in bold.
2. Agreement levels of secondary and tertiary characteristics are a percentage of those asked the option and not of the total sample.
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