Despite the fact that women comprise half the world’s population, gender inequality persists worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Beyond gender-based violence, this inequality manifests in various ways: from unequal control over resources, to unequal distribution of household duties, to legal or cultural constraints on women’s socio-economic mobility. So argue Dr. Micheline Goedhuys and Prof. Eleonora Nillesen in a new policy brief.
Achieving gender equality is important in its own right, but it is also a strong catalyst to other development outcomes such as poverty reduction, well-being and health. This is because gender inequality often prevents women from benefitting from development interventions in the same way as men.
Women, for instance, may lack the resources, time or freedom of movement to travel long distances to access health, legal or social services. This, in turn, may be linked to the gendered nature of roles within the household or to restrictions imposed by partners, families or society. As such, employment programmes may have little impact for women if their household responsibilities limit them to part-time, low-paid work conducted at home.
It is therefore important that development practitioners gender-mainstream the design and implementation of their interventions, to gain insight into who participates and benefits most from the intervention. But it is equally important to evaluate the impact of development interventions on women’s empowerment. Here women’s empowerment is defined as women’s enhanced control over decisions that affect their own lives, including access to and control over productive resources, strengthened participation in public decision-making processes and enhanced well-being through improved access to infrastructure and services.
To track empowerment over time and as a result of development interventions, multifaceted measurement tools are needed to capture the various dimensions of empowerment. In this brief, the authors illustrate a multidimensional empowerment instrument that can be used for such a purpose. It was developed as part of a study funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), carried out by UNU-MERIT in collaboration with the University of Tunis and the University of Passau in Germany – a study entitled ‘Measuring Women and Youth Empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa region’.
Various indices reveal particularly striking gender inequality figures in countries across the MENA region – so a new tool for monitoring the position of women is particularly relevant. The authors therefore applied the methodology to a nationally representative survey conducted in Tunisia to test the methodology and to map levels of empowerment of men and women. The brief ends with several policy recommendations.
Download the policy brief here.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
Hounaida (pictured, left) is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law at the University of Tunis.
World Bank / A.Hoel