Women Empowerment

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European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10, Number 2 (2009)

The Determinants of Women Empowerment in Southern Punjab (Pakistan): An Empirical Analysis Imran Sharif Chaudhry Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan E-mail: imranchaudhry@bzu.edu.pk Farhana Nosheen PhD Scholar, Department of Economics, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan E-mail: farhananosheen@hotmail.com Abstract Women empowerment is one of the momentous issues of contemporary development policies in developing countries. Since empowerment is considered a multidimensional concept, it is determined by many socio-economic factors and cultural norms. In this paper, an attempt is made to explore the possible determinants of women empowerment using regression analysis based on primary data from a district of Southern Punjab. Considering its multidimensional nature and aspects, a cumulative index for women empowerment is constructed using four indices i.e. personal autonomy, family decision making, domestic economic decisions and political autonomy. An empirical analysis shows some new and diverse results for three different areas namely urban, rural and tribal areas. The results show that women empowerment is considerably influenced by education, access to media, socio-cultural norms of the community, job of women and household participation rate. In this study, apart from the conventional variables, a variable about the knowledge of an Islamic Concept of Women Empowerment is also considered which shows significant positive impact on Women Empowerment index. Finally, it is concluded that women empowerment can be improved by concentrating on the significant factors in remote regions and consequently poverty levels will also be reduced across the areas. Keywords: Empowerment; Socio-economic Autonomy; OLS regression; Rural, Urban and Tribal Areas; Pakistan JEL Classifications Codes: J16; A14; C21; O18; N35

1. Introduction
The term ‘women empowerment’ has become popular in the development field since 1980s. It is vividly recognised that women empowerment is essential for sustainable economic growth and reduction in poverty in developing countries (Klasen, 1999). Although women empowerment is not a sufficient condition, it is still a necessary condition for development process. In the World Bank Policy Research Report, it is unambiguously suggested that women empowerment is being progressively recognized as an important policy goal for improving not just the well-being of women themselves but also for its positive impact on the family (King and Mason, 2001). Economically empowered women play a more active role in household decision-making, with greater bargaining power to increase spending on education and health (DFID, 2007). 216

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10, Number 2 (2009) Since women empowerment is the significant part of contemporary development policies of developing countries, it faces many problems. At the theoretical level there is much debate as to what empowerment comprises and how best it can be achieved (Kabeer, 1999). Women empowerment has dimensional focus and envisages greater access to knowledge, social and economic resources and greater autonomy in economic and political decision making process (Kabeer, 2005). Women empowerment seeks change in the sexual division of labor, equal access to food, health care, education credit and employment, ownership of assets and now access to media. The term “Empowerment” has been used to represent a wide range of concepts and to describe a proliferation of outcomes. The term has been used more often to advocate for certain types of policies and intervention strategies than to analyze them. Consequently women empowerment as a ‘Millennium Development Goal’ could not be achieved because neither the World Bank nor any other major development agency has developed a rigorous method for measuring and tracking changes in levels...
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