What does sexuality have to do with women’s empowerment? Research from Pathways of Women’s Empowerment shows that sexuality affects women’s political and economic empowerment in a number of important ways. For example, in the ways that women experience seeking election to political office, how women are treated and respected (or disrespected) in the workplace and in public, and how families and communities place expectations on how women should behave. Being exposed to sexual harassment and sexual violence and not being able to exercise choice in their sexual relationships affects women’s well-being and ultimately undermines political, social and economic empowerment.
In this policy paper, we demonstrate why sexuality is so important for women’s empowerment, drawing on evidence generated by research carried out by the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment RPC and collaborative initiatives with the DFID-funded IDS Sexuality and Development Programme.