Individual and Structural Antecedents of Women’s Empowerment in India

Tannistha Samanta, University of Maryland
Sonalde B. Desai, University of Maryland

This paper proposes to address the need for empirical analysis and potential challenge to some of the assumptions made in the extant gender literature, by examining the dialectic of context and individual agency for married women in India. The study proposes to develop an empowerment index by explicitly considering the measurement errors and the differential importance of the indicators that are thought to reflect the larger empowerment construct. The proposed study aims to go beyond the simplistic and limited measures of education and work dimensions of women, to consider more fundamental and structural factors involving family, social and economic organization. The study proposes to draw data from the India Human Development Survey (2004-05), an all India survey conducted across 33 Indian states and union territories. The results from this study may help to understand the nexus between individual (agency) and community (structure) behavior, given the existing normative structures in India.

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Presented in Poster Session 6