Measurement of Women’s Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh

Simeen Mahmud, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS)
Nirali M. Shah, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Stan Becker, Johns Hopkins University

Women’s empowerment is often described as a key factor in the well-being of women and their households, and as such, has been quantified, measured and described in a variety of ways. It is a dynamic process that cannot be observed directly, but through the use of proxies and indicators can be approximated. Empowerment is very context specific, and in a predominantly Islamic society with high levels of illiteracy and poverty, the indicators used to measure global dimensions of empowerment are very different from those applicable in a Western context. This paper measures empowerment of rural women in Bangladesh with a number of selected indicators and examines their distribution with data from 128 villages where an NGO health and microcredit study is ongoing. A framework is presented, and descriptive data on each of the dimensions and covariates of empowerment are illustrated.

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Presented in Session 10: Empowerment, Agency and Gender Dynamics