Exploring the Relationship Between Participation in an Adult-women’s Soccer League and Intimate Partner Violence in Rural Kenya

Francis Barchi, Samantha C. Winter, Daniel Mbogo, Bendettah Thomas, Brittany Ammerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women in Sub-Saharan Africa are among the highest of any region in the world. Empirical studies on the effectiveness of IPV-prevention programs in Africa, though few, suggest that successful programs have emphasized community-level engagement and attitudinal change around gender roles. This study explored the relationship between adult women’s participation in an all-women’s soccer league and IPV in rural Kenya. Nikumbuke Project is a health- and literacy-based program for 702 women in Kwale County, Kenya, that also hosts a women’s soccer league. A total of 684 Nikumbuke members completed surveys for this study, 543 of whom identified as having had a partner in the preceding 12 months and were included in this analysis. Participants in the study were, on average, in their late 30s, married with 4–6 children, a primary education or less, and no source of formal employment. Logistic regression models examined the association between a woman’s participation in the soccer league and the odds that she would have experienced recent IPV, controlling for other covariates. Women who played on soccer teams had 59% lower odds of reporting physical IPV in the preceding 12 months and approximately 43% lower odds of reporting any form of IPV during the same period compared to women who did not play soccer. Support of more gender-equitable norms was associated with lower odds of all forms of recent violence. More research is needed to identify the underlying reasons for these observed effects and to determine the presence of a causal or temporal relationship between adult women’s sports and IPV-risk reduction. Nonetheless, findings from this study point to a novel IPV intervention in communities that might otherwise be resistant to more overt attempts to address gender-based violence (GBV) or where social service agencies with the capacity for IPV-prevention programming may be limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)NP7907-NP7931
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


  • Africa
  • Kenya
  • intimate partner violence
  • violence prevention
  • women’s sports


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