Pathways to change: Three decades of feminist research and activism to end violence against women in Nicaragua

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Global public health




Nicaragua; Violence against women; feminist movements; intimate partner violence


This paper presents the results of nearly three decades of partnership between feminist researchers and activists to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Nicaragua. A household survey conducted in 1995 in León, the country's second-largest city, revealed that 55 per cent of women had experienced lifetime physical intimate partner violence (IPV), and 27 per cent had experienced IPV in the last 12 months. The study results were instrumental in changing domestic violence laws in Nicaragua. A follow-up study in 2016 found a decrease of 63 per cent in lifetime physical IPV and 70 per cent in 12-month physical IPV. This paper examines possible explanations for the reduction, including the policy reforms resulting from feminist advocacy. We compare risk and protective factors for physical IPV, such as changes in women's attitudes towards violence, their use of services, and knowledge of laws, using data from both the 1995 and 2016 surveys, as well as three waves of Demographic and Health Surveys. We conclude that the decline in IPV can be partially attributed to the efforts of the Nicaraguan women's movements to reform laws, provide services for survivors, transform gender norms, and increase women's knowledge of their human rights.


Global Health