Women?s? empowerment in the fragile environment of Semi-Arid Tropics: focus on norms, agency and attitudes uri icon


  • Empowerment of women, in its simplest meaning refers to the process whereby women acquire an ability to make strategic life choices. Likewise, power is also thought of as an ability to make choices. This view of power focuses on structure or the social norms and forces that enable and or constrain thinking, action and behavior. Hence, there is now a focus and discussion on not just the power relations among actors and their agency (strengthening capabilities to act) but also on social structures, norms, and attitudes that enable (or constrain) the behavior of all actors ? women, men, socially included and excluded (Hayward 2000).Taking cues from the work of Munoz-Boudet et.al (2012), this paper attempts to discuss that social norms, gender roles, individual capacities, assets, and the communities wherein the marginalized rural poor live, determine the opportunities available to women and men.Harnessing the rich VLS longitudinal panel data from 6 villages of India, the paper explains the dynamics of intra-household relationships gleaned from the longitudinal panel and highlights how gender differences and inequalities among sample households engaged in agriculture in these villages has changed over time. Q2 analysis is used to examine variation in gender norms and attitudes among communities/villages as well as discern distinguishing patterns and pathways towards women?s empowerment. The paper also appeals to analysis of the social network architecture, identifying existing formal and informal institutions that enable women?s agency, voice, claims and opportunities. Understanding women in their wider social setting - wider social contexts of gender, age, class and other identities that influence their relations with others, leads to a better appreciation of the change agents women can be in their households, communities and nation at large. Ultimately, to bring about socially transformative empowerment , the paper clearly points that it is imperative that individuals and groups develop the capacities to not only address the norms, attitudes and conditions that determine their life choices and aspirations but also challenge them to bring about this change

publication date

  • 2014