Measuring Women’s Empowerment in the Global South

Measuring Women’s Empowerment in the Global South

Sonalde Desai Feinian Chen, Shilpa Reddy, Amy McLaughlin
NCAER Working Paper 01 March 2022

Over the past two decades, we have seen an explosion in research on the topic of women’s empowerment and its related dimensions, and yet much remains to be done in terms of clarifying conceptual pathways and best practices in measurement. This review traces the intellectual and historic context in which women’s status and empowerment in lower- and middle-income countries has been measured; the conceptual and operationalisation challenges in shaping research questions; the use of empirical measures and their connection to levels of social analysis, and the identification of emerging directions for future research. With the recognition that empowerment is as much a collective process as an individual one, the authors argue that a more integrative and multidisciplinary approach to empowerment is needed. This would necessitate incorporating an intersectional lens, the life course approach, and tapping into diverse sources of data that can cumulatively strengthen future research.

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