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Fuzziness in conceptualisation of women’s empowerment, access to resources and autonomy: evidence from Indian states

Tulika Tripathi () and Nripendra K. Mishra ()
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Tulika Tripathi: Central University of Gujarat
Nripendra K. Mishra: Banaras Hindu University

Journal of Social and Economic Development, 2017, vol. 19, issue 1, 60-82

Abstract: Abstract Empowerment is instrumentally important for achieving positive development outcomes and well-being of life which lies in the doing and being what one values and have reason to value, i.e. agency. Sen made a strong claim for increasing the agency of the individual to enable them to be an effective agent of their own well-being and development. The concept of empowerment is very complex in itself, indeed very fuzzy also. Different scholars hold different definition of empowerment according to the need of their work. Women’s agency, autonomy and empowerment are widely used idea in development literature and capability approach. But there exists substantial ambiguity in conception of these ideas. While women’s well-being and women’s agency is sufficiently distinguished from each other, there seems to be a large overlap between agency and empowerment and between agency and autonomy. The present paper examines various conceptions of these ideas to clearly mark the overlapping zones and distinguishing features of respective concepts. It is shown that operationalisation of these concepts in empirical research covering all states of India is quite difficult and given the limitation of data sources only some dimensions of empowerment can be empirically tested at all India level. This paper uses NFHS-3 data set to do so. The second part of the paper carries out empirical testing of indicators of access to resources and autonomy for major 15 states of India and shows that access to resources and autonomy are not necessarily coterminous.

Keywords: Gender; Empowerment; Autonomy; Agency; India (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1007/s40847-017-0043-1

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