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Do Schooling and Work Empower Women in Developing Countries? Gender and Domestic Decisions in Sri Lanka

Do Schooling and Work Empower Women in Developing Countries? Gender and Domestic Decisions in Sri... Our work challenges and points out the limitations of the theoretical presumptions underlying the relationship between empowerment, education, and employment that have been emphasized in both the exiting literature and the current rhetoric to “empower” women in developing countries. We use survey, life history, and focus group data to empirically examine the relationship between schooling, paid work, and power in domestic decision making for young, married women in Sri Lanka. We argue that the relationship between education, work, and women's control of household decisions is conditioned by the larger social context, and as such, it is likely to reflect the extent to which the division of labor and access to information and economic resources are the bases of domestic power in the society under consideration. Our results make a strong case for the need to move away from broad-based conceptualizations of women's empowerment to a consideration of the specific arenas and dimensions along which women can have power. In focusing on the domestic arena alone, we find that there are important differences in both the nature and determinants of the financial as opposed to the social and organizational dimension of power in Sri Lankan households. Women who control one of these aspects of family decisions do not necessarily control the other, and while education and employment play an important role in determining women's input in financial decisions, they are largely immaterial in determining household decisions related to social and organizational matters. Our results also demonstrate the importance of going beyong simplistic and limited measures of schooling and work to consider more fundamental structural factors involving family, social, and economic organization. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociological Forum Springer Journals

Do Schooling and Work Empower Women in Developing Countries? Gender and Domestic Decisions in Sri Lanka

Sociological Forum , Volume 12 (4) – Sep 16, 2004

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References (61)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 1997 by Plenum Publishing Corporation
Subject
Social Sciences; Sociology, general; Social Sciences, general
ISSN
0884-8971
eISSN
1573-7861
DOI
10.1023/A:1022126824127
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Our work challenges and points out the limitations of the theoretical presumptions underlying the relationship between empowerment, education, and employment that have been emphasized in both the exiting literature and the current rhetoric to “empower” women in developing countries. We use survey, life history, and focus group data to empirically examine the relationship between schooling, paid work, and power in domestic decision making for young, married women in Sri Lanka. We argue that the relationship between education, work, and women's control of household decisions is conditioned by the larger social context, and as such, it is likely to reflect the extent to which the division of labor and access to information and economic resources are the bases of domestic power in the society under consideration. Our results make a strong case for the need to move away from broad-based conceptualizations of women's empowerment to a consideration of the specific arenas and dimensions along which women can have power. In focusing on the domestic arena alone, we find that there are important differences in both the nature and determinants of the financial as opposed to the social and organizational dimension of power in Sri Lankan households. Women who control one of these aspects of family decisions do not necessarily control the other, and while education and employment play an important role in determining women's input in financial decisions, they are largely immaterial in determining household decisions related to social and organizational matters. Our results also demonstrate the importance of going beyong simplistic and limited measures of schooling and work to consider more fundamental structural factors involving family, social, and economic organization.

Journal

Sociological ForumSpringer Journals

Published: Sep 16, 2004

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