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Promoting Gender Equality: The Role of Ideology, Power, and Control in the Link Between Land Ownership and Violence in Nicaragua

Authors

  • Shelly Grabe

    Corresponding author
    1. University of California-Santa Cruz
      Corresponding concerning this article should be addressed to Shelly Grabe, Department of Psychology, University of California-Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 [e-mail: sgrabe@ucsc.edu].
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  • This collaborative project brought together science and grass roots community advocacy. The researcher's expertise ensured theoretically grounded, sound methodology. The community collaborators’ expertise ensured cultural sensitivity and community relevance. Each member of the team served an absolutely critical role. Invaluable contributions were made by: the women of the Xochilt-Acalt women's center; the CIERUNIC S.A. research team; the suggestions, tireless translation, and support provided by Anne McSweeney; the dedicated assistance of Juan Pastor Solis Rojas; the translation and commitment of Helen Dixon; the professional support from Sonia Arguto at FIDEG; the advice provided by the Red de Mujeres Contra la Violencia; and, most certainly, the innovation, inspiration, and undying commitment to the women's movement in Nicaragua of Carlos Arenas at WCCN. This research was supported by a National Science Foundation grant (OISE-0714697) to Shelly Grabe.

Corresponding concerning this article should be addressed to Shelly Grabe, Department of Psychology, University of California-Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 [e-mail: sgrabe@ucsc.edu].

Abstract

Scholars have argued that institutional inequities and control over resources are linked to gender-based violence. However, psychologists have yet to reposition their research questions to examine how structural inequities lead to power imbalances and gender-based norms that perpetuate threats to women's health and safety. This study provides a theoretical framework for, and an examination of, hypotheses surrounding the role of land ownership in shifting gender relations and women's receipt of violence that have been posed in the literature but never empirically tested. Surveys conducted in rural Nicaragua revealed that land ownership among women challenges traditional gender ideology and increases women's power and control within the marital relationship, which in turn, reduces levels of violence. The findings have important implications for the discussion of gender-based violence in the context of development and for initiatives that can lead to more equitable policies for women. The study puts psychology at the crossroads of women's human rights, globalization, and social change by putting forth a novel model for understanding inequality and providing an empirical framework for social justice.

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