economics of genders - gender differences

Question Description

Does (can) development promote women's agency (i.e., women's ability to make choices and transform them into desired outcomes)? Explain, being sure to include where/under what conditions agency matters.

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Final Answer

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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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Ressy M (494)
Duke University

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