Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Women's Empowerment and Associated Age-Related Factors

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Women's Empowerment and Associated Age-Related Factors

Article excerpt

Kabeer (2001) defines empowerment as, "The expansion in people's ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability was previously denied to them." In the context of women, Basu and Basu (2003) defined empowerment as a process that harbors power to women to challenge specific situations. This process generally involves women standing up to prevalent customs and cultures in efficaciously developing their well-being (e.g, Swain & Wallentin, 2008). Basu and Basu (2003) add that women lag behind their male counterparts in all fields everywhere in developing world, hence human development in these countries, especially in Pakistan needs to abate disparities faced by women (Ul-Haq, 1995).

Women in general, experience several kinds of powerlessness in economic and communal life. Their disempowerment is echoed in their inferior job positions, levels of education, income earnings and its control, bargaining powers in marketing about their personal products and labor, participation in decision-making, access to inputs of production and resources and, paid job prospects as compared to their male counterparts (Basu & Basu, 2003). This results in overall dependency of women on male relatives over their span of lives, declining their social status, especially, in some developing economies. Hence economic development theorists endorse if level of women's empowerment is increased, it will help human development in many societies (Basu & Basu, 2003).

The issue of women's empowerment is magnified in developing countries where women are restricted to four walls of their houses, where they take up household responsibilities and are not part of greater economic activities that would enrich their countries. Economic development and women's empowerment are pedantically interwoven with overall development of nations and economies that reduce inequality between women and men and fasttrack the process of development (Duflo, 2012); and when economic and financial resources are available to women, societal and economic development improves, improving the status and freedom of women (Sen, 2000), drop in poverty, enhanced welfare of children, and improvement in domestic efficiency (Quisumbing, 2003).

During 1980s some improvement in women's situation in both rural and urban areas of Pakistan were observed (Alavi, 1991), however, socio-cultural, and economic positions of women remained low, perhaps, due to the deep rooted and intrinsic patriarchal and feudal structures prevailing all over Pakistan. For example, statistics provided by the Government of Pakistan (2013) for the year 2002 reported, that adult literacy rate in women (45%) lagged behind men (69%).

Among many causes, lower position of women in Pakistan is due to the people in the governmental sectors making policies and social scientists. Policies that would empower women are not well formulated or effectively implemented, and only few scientific studies have looked at these issues with keen interest (Alavi, 1991). Hence the present study was undertaken to identify age-related demographic factors that might be associated with women's empowerment. The justification of why age-related factors were the focus of the present study lies in the fact that women's empowerment is likely to differ over the life span as the rights and duties of women change in different phases of age (Jejeebhoy, 2000). Many researchers found chronological age as a significant positive determinant of women's empowerment. Older and mature women are likely to enjoy better status, rights and duties in contrast to that of younger ones (Ethiopian Democratic and Health Survey, 2005). Similarly, for Japanese women, Tijani and Yano (2007) reported as aged progressed current status of women farmers was enhanced as compared to the previous year. This was also true for Bangladeshi women (Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey, 2004) that indicated that women under the age of 20 years were observed to be less empowered as compared with the women who belonged to the age group of 40-44 year (Mostofa, Tareque, Haque & Islam, 2008), a subsequent study confirmed this empowerment to older women spanning three dimensions, i. …

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