Leverage points for improving gender equality and human well-being in a smallholder farming context

Aisa O. Manlosa, Jannik Schultner, Ine Dorresteijn, Joern Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


How transformative processes could be facilitated to improve gender equality and consequently, human well-being, is a key question for moving towards a just and sustainable future. Focusing on southwestern Ethiopia where significant changes in formal institutions related to gender have occurred, we applied the concept of systemic leverage points. We show that changes in formal structures facilitated changes in perceived visible gender gaps, such as increased participation of women in public activities. These, in turn, played an enabling role for changes in community norms, and (to a lesser degree) triggered reconsideration of perceptions about women’s capacities. Both women and men perceived more equal gender relations as being associated with better well-being at the household level. Our results highlight the important role of interactions between leverage points for gender equality, suggesting important insights can be gained by studying interactions, compared to when shallow (e.g., visible gaps) or deeper leverage points (e.g., social norms) are analyzed in isolation. Our study also demonstrated the general suitability of a leverage-points perspective in gender research, including as an analytical frame to complement gender transformative approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-541
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Gender Equality
  • Leverage point
  • Sustainability
  • Transformative change
  • Instructions
  • Sustainable development


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