Women's Economic Empowerment in the Developing Countries: Reengineering Patriarchy?

Women's Economic Empowerment in the Developing Countries: Reengineering Patriarchy?

Ummu Atiyah Ahmad Zakuan, Kalthum Hassan
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9806-2.ch013
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It is an established fact that women's empowerment is primary to the socio-economic and political development of a nation. It will be meaningless, if women that constitute half of the population of the globe do not have access to education, healthcare, employment and political decision making bodies. A nation benefits fully when both men and women contribute rigorously in social cohesion, economic growth, peace and prosperity. Findings from countries and reputable institutions such as World Bank and the United Nations revealed that greater gender equality correlates positively with national economic growth. The World Economic Forum recently reported that across the 135 countries examined, greater gender equality correlates positively with per capita gross national product. Countries with greater equality between women and men have economies that are more competitive and fast growing. Hence, removing barriers on empowering women stimulates economic development. This chapter commences with the meaning of women empowerment followed by the identification of various barriers on women empowerment, and investigation on women economic empowerment in the developing countries. The patriarchal system is also introduced to explain how it influences women empowerment. Finally, this chapter argues that women empowerment in general can only be achieved if the patriarchal system is transformed or reengineered to foster more equality between both groups.
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Women’S Economic Empowerment

Women’s economic empowerment is an achievement of women to be able to choose and control their economic activities and incomes. It is also an enhancement of women’s rights to enable them to have control over their lives and also contribute to the society at large. The main objective of women’s economic empowerment is to create just and equitable societies (OECD, 2011). In order to provide sufficient knowledge and understanding about women’s economic empowerment, this section starts with broad definitions of relevant terms and concepts related to women’s economic empowerment before exploring the context of economic empowerment for women in the developing countries

Key Terms in this Chapter

Developing Country: Refers to a country with the following characteristics: low levels of human capital, high levels of poverty and under-nutrition, higher population growth rates; predominance of agriculture activities and dominance of informal sector.

Patriarchy: Is a social system where men are in authority over women in all aspects of society. It is invisible, yet visible through family, community and state, in formal or informal settings. It has been embedded in human lives for so many years.

Gender Awareness: Is an awareness of the differences in roles and relations between women and men. It recognizes that the life experiences, expectations, and needs of women and men are different.

Women Empowerment: Is an enhancement of women’s rights and privileges to enable them to have control over their lives and to contribute to the societal wellbeing.

Reengineering: Refers to a process of a system in restructuring or redesigning as to optimize the outcomes. In this context, it is a process of transforming the patriarchal system to be gender sensitive.

Gender Equality: Refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and there should not be any discrimination based on gender.

Economic Development: Is a process of restructuring of an economy to enhance the economic well-being of a community/ country.

Patriarchal System: Is a system which differentiates and stratifies human being based on sex, and it favours men. It defines women’s roles and functions in the society which normally put barriers to many women’s right such as right to education and the right to work.

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