Empowering to include: mixed-method analysis of multiple dimensions and associated factors to female empowerment in peru

Ruiz Bravo, Patricia; Vargas, Silvana; Barrantes, Nicolas; Gomez, Sophia; Lopez, Thais (2018). 'Empowering to include: mixed-method analysis of multiple dimensions and associated factors to female empowerment in Peru' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


It is not possible to promote sustained human development without activating women's empowerment. This is understood as the capability to act that women have in terms of what they value and have reasons to value in different spheres of social, economic and political life. Thus, although the current context suggests significant advances in terms of gender equity and women's empowerment at the level of global commitments and national policies, there is still a need to generate rigorous evidence, both from a quantitative and qualitative perspective, on the extent of the empowerment of women in Peru, as well as on aspects that could contribute to promote it.

The general objective is to generate knowledge about the multiple dimensions and factors associated with female empowerment in Peru in order to design a monitoring and evaluation system relevant to the design, formulation and implementation of public policies. Methodologically, the research is based on a mixed design and is descriptive, exploratory and explanatory. On the one hand, the research used qualitative research techniques. Based on these, aspects that are not necessarily reflected in the statistical information of the Demographic and Family Health Survey (ENDES) were explored, such as, what dimensions of empowerment women consider important and should be taken into account in a national monitoring and evaluation system. On the other hand, quantitative techniques were used to analyze the ENDES with emphasis on the situation of the empowerment of Peruvian women in different basic dimensions and proceeded to the estimation of a set of econometric models in order to explore the factors associated with empowerment in their multiple dimensions.

Qualitative results suggested that there are seven dimensions that women value (i) autonomy in decision-making, (ii) economic autonomy or paid work, (iii) education, (iv) community participation, (v) self-esteem and emotional health, (vi) physical health, and (vii) family harmony. Of these, there was a coincidence in five of them. Once dimensions were identified, women were asked to prioritize them according to their own assessment. In the urban area the order of priority was: (1) economic autonomy and paid work, (2) health and (3) education and professional training. In rural areas, priorities varied (1) self-esteem and emotional health, (2) community participation, (3) education and training. As a result of these findings, the proposal of empowerment dimensions to be used in the study was confirmed and the qualitative importance of the community dimension (social relations) and self-esteem (psychological well-being) in the consolidation processes of women's empowerment was highlighted. 

In quantitative terms, the dash board consisted of eight indicators grouped into six dimensions. From them, the multidimensional disempowerment index (MDI) was calculated. The headcount of multidimensional disempowerment (i.e., analysis of joint incidence of insufficiency in the selected empowerment indicators) suggested that 68.6% of women in the reference population showed levels of insufficient empowerment in at least 1 of the 8 indicators, 39% showed insufficiency in at least 2 indicators, 16.1% in at least 3 indicators, while 5.7% in 5 or more indicators.

Finally, the correlation analysis showed robust results. In particular, the education of women and wealth showed a negative and statistically significant relationship on the probability of being in a situation of multidimensional disempowerment. While, on the other hand, the prevalence of disability increased the probability of being multidimensionally disempowered. These results point to the need to move towards the realization of an intersectional analysis of disadvantages that reflects the way in which, for women, the limitations to empowerment in their multiple domains are added, strengthened and, at the same time, are enhanced by other deprivations related to basic achievements in welfare dimensions such as education or access to resources necessary for the achievement of a minimum standard of living.

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