Scientific Publication

Pathways to Empowerment: Case Studies of Positive Deviances in Gender Relations in Ethiopia


Development eforts have increased women’s perceived empowerment and free dom, yet have failed to sustainably alter gender norms. There is a lack of research 
investigating reasons for this anomaly. This study, departing from the conventional 
approach, tries to fll this gap by employing an interpretative phenomenological 
approach to assess how women have managed to achieve expanded agency while 
living within a constraining normative environment. We argue that women have 
the capacity to deviate and the intentions that lead to new behaviors emerge not 
only from individuals’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral con trol, as suggested by the Theory of Planned Behavior, but also in combination with 
demographic and economic factors. Individuals need to make decisions in three ar eas ―self-conviction (attitude and perceived behavioral control), subjective norms 
(within household and community), and structures (state and non-state institutions). 
The results shed light on alternative empowerment pathways that could potentially 
inform the design of transformational interventions