Demographic Influences on Women's Empowerment: How Reproductive Health Events Shape Women's Mobility, Economic Autonomy and Experience with Violence over the Life Course

Susan M. Lee-Rife, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

This paper explores several dimensions of women’s empowerment over the life course and examines whether reproductive events and experiences over the life course appear to influence women’s empowerment. We use a life course perspective and a rich data set from women in India to investigate the influence of different events and experiences—including the birth of a child or of a son, an unwanted or mistimed pregnancy, and abortion—on women’s freedom of movement, financial discretion, experiences of violence and threats of abandonment. Accounting for the potential cumulative influence of life events, the fact that prior experiences may accumulate to shape women's empowerment in the ensuing period allows us to capture more completely the complex interplay between women’s reproductive experiences and experiences and their empowerment.

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Presented in Session 104: Gender, Power and Reproductive Behavior