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Yes, women continue to have less power than men to exercise
agency; defined as the ability to make choices both in the household and
in society. Increased agency for women leads to improvements in women's
welfare and that of their children; yet such shifts have been elusive;
even in rich countries. Economic development can improve conditions
(higher incomes; greater access to services; and expanded
infrastructure) that allow agency to be exercised; however; this
potential impact relies in part on women earning their own income to
acquire bargaining power. Despite some gains in women's rights; laws
remain weak in regulating control over resources and family matters;
such as inheritance; land ownership; and protection against violence.
Social norms can prevail over laws or incomes to the detriment of gender
equality; and can inhibit women's collective agency by limiting their
political roles or access to positions of power. To counter these
barriers; policies need to focus on providing incentives and needed
information which; in turn; can influence outcomes and factors that
shape women's individual agency.
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