Measuring women's empowerment: development of a model

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Abstract

The need for a measure of women's empowerment has been long and well recognised. There remains much debate over how this can be done and most of the tools produced so far have been inadequate to the task. Two issues have hindered the development of a representative tool: first, the lack of agreement on what women's empowerment actually is; and second, the tension existent between the empowerment of individual women and women as a social group, because not all women experience their disempowerment by patriarchy similarly, and some women will benefit more from empowerment than others. Historically the means to measure women's empowerment have been based on what feminist statisticians and economists nominate as male normative indices, which do not represent women as a social group. I developed a qualitative longitudinal means for measuring empirically the empowerment of targeted, or project specific, groups of women that uses the women's experiences as yardsticks. In this article, I use my study of women's empowerment through ICTs as an example of women's empowerment generally.

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