Congratulations to the Class of 2022!
Posted: May 20, 2022 - 03:15pm
On Friday, May 13th, 2022, the department of political science celebrated its undergraduate, MA, and PhD graduates at the UNM Continuing Education Center. Roughly 150 guests were in attendance to celebrate the achievements of this graduating class, with Dr. Peter Kierst delivering the commencement speech, and graduate Mariposa Childson serving as class speaker.
"Women’s Property Ownership and Empowerment in Latin America"
In most of the world, women’s opportunities to thrive and live with dignity are constrained by discriminatory social norms, uneven enforcement of the law, and economic dependence on male family members. Women’s unequal social position often renders them vulnerable to violence and reduces their ability to participate in decision making, even on issues that are crucial for their own lives such as health care.
Calasanti’s PhD thesis explores mechanisms that have the potential to reverse women’s subordinate social positions. She hypothesizes that when women own homes, land, and other property, these assets endow them with more power to make decisions and to escape violence.
Calasanti tests this approach using survey data from three Latin American countries with high levels of social inequality, histories of civil conflict, and where the situation of many women, especially poor women, has been precarious: Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras. Through rigorous statistical analysis, she finds that owning a home—on their own or jointly with a partner—is associated with women’s greater decision-making power, lower vulnerability to violence, and lower levels of marital coercion.
Her important finding is that access to property is a major lever to increase women’s bargaining power and foster change in norms. Property also helps reduce experiences of violence. Calasanti’s work offers empirical evidence to validate and further guide the efforts of governments and activists in their efforts to advance women’s equality. We need more research like Calasanti’s superb study to expand our understanding of the possibilities and challenges to achieve better lives for women.
Committee: Mala Htun (co-chair), William Stanley (co-chair), Jami Nelson-Nunez, Tamara Kay, Jo-Marie Burt