Understanding the impact of a microfinance-based intervention on women's empowerment and the reduction of intimate partner violence in South Africa.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


We sought to obtain evidence about the scope of women's empowerment and the mechanisms underlying the significant reduction in intimate partner violence documented by the Intervention With Microfinance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) cluster-randomized trial in rural South Africa.


The IMAGE intervention combined a microfinance program with participatory training on understanding HIV infection, gender norms, domestic violence, and sexuality. Outcome measures included past year's experience of intimate partner violence and 9 indicators of women's empowerment. Qualitative data about changes occurring within intimate relationships, loan groups, and the community were also collected.


After 2 years, the risk of past-year physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner was reduced by more than half (adjusted risk ratio=0.45; 95% confidence interval=0.23, 0.91). Improvements in all 9 indicators of empowerment were observed. Reductions in violence resulted from a range of responses enabling women to challenge the acceptability of violence, expect and receive better treatment from partners, leave abusive relationships, and raise public awareness about intimate partner violence.


Our findings, both qualitative and quantitative, indicate that economic and social empowerment of women can contribute to reductions in intimate partner violence.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kim, JC; Watts, CH; Hargreaves, JR; Ndhlovu, LX; Phetla, G; Morison, LA; Busza, J; Porter, JDH; Pronyk, P

Published Date

  • October 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 97 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1794 - 1802

PubMed ID

  • 17761566

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC1994170

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1541-0048

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0090-0036

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2105/ajph.2006.095521


  • eng