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Women’s empowerment as self-compassion? Empirical reflections from India

November 16 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Although ICPD (Cairo, 1994) brought about an international consensus on the centrality of (women’s) empowerment and gender equity as desired national goals, the conceptualization and measurement of empowerment in demography and economics have been largely understood in a relational and in a family welfare context where women’s altruistic behaviour (or domestic duty) within the household (e.g. decisions on cooking, household ration, etc.) is tied either to developmental or child health outcomes. Given this intellectual and policy background, I offer an alternative definition of the household level empowerment measure by including dimensions of self-compassion: a non-judgmental attitude towards one’s own self that includes feelings of awareness, recognition and assertiveness. Subsequently, a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) is performed to allow for refining the empowerment measure based on the modification indices followed by OLS estimation to investigate the antecedents of (a self-compassion based) empowerment. Overall, empowerment is shown to be positively and significantly associated with woman’s reproductive care behaviour (captured through antenatal care) with significant age and education gradient. Further, a woman’s married status, her relation to the household head and her residence in a joint family create conditions of restricted freedom in terms of her mobility, decision making and sociality. The empowerment measure showed inconsistent associations with social group affiliations (caste and religion) and household wealth underscoring the complex pathways through which social norms and gender scripts intersect to generate contradictions in the experience of womanhood in India. The study concludes with reflections on the researcher’s empirical dilemma of combining a relatively innovative conceptual framing with the methodological demands of producing a valid, reliable and a stable measure.Discipline/Coordinating Entity: Humanities and Social Sciences


November 16
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Category: