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Women Empowerment in Southern Punjab (Pakistan) Essay

The Determinants of Women Empowerment in Southern Punjab (Pakistan): An Empirical Analysis Imran Sharif Chaudhry Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan E-mail: [email protected] Farhana Nosheen PhD Scholar, Department of Economics, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan E-mail: [email protected] Abstract Women empowerment is one of the momentous issues of contemporary development policies in developing countries. Since empowerment is considered a multidimensional concept, it is determined by many socio-economic factors and cultural norms.

In this paper, an attempt is made to explore the possible determinants of women empowerment using regression analysis based on primary data from a district of Southern Punjab. Considering its multidimensional nature and aspects, a cumulative index for women empowerment is constructed using four indices i.e. personal autonomy, family decision making, domestic economic decisions and political autonomy. An empirical analysis shows some new and diverse results for three different areas namely urban, rural and tribal areas. The results show that women empowerment is considerably influenced by education, access to media, socio-cultural norms of the community, job of women and household participation rate.

In this study, apart from the conventional variables, a variable about the knowledge of an Islamic Concept of Women Empowerment is also considered which shows significant positive impact on Women Empowerment index. Finally, it is concluded that women empowerment can be improved by concentrating on the significant factors in remote regions and consequently poverty levels will also be reduced across the areas. Keywords: Empowerment; Socio-economic Autonomy; OLS regression; Rural, Urban and Tribal Areas; Pakistan JEL Classifications Codes: J16; A14; C21; O18; N35

1. Introduction

The term ‘women empowerment’ has become popular in the development field since 1980s. It is vividly recognised that women empowerment is essential for sustainable economic growth and reduction in poverty in developing countries (Klasen, 1999). Although women empowerment is not a sufficient condition, it is still a necessary condition for development process. In the World Bank Policy Research Report, it is unambiguously suggested that women empowerment is being progressively recognized as an important policy goal for improving not just the well-being of women themselves but also for its positive impact on the family (King and Mason, 2001). Economically empowered women play a more active role in household decision-making, with greater bargaining power to increase spending on education and health (DFID, 2007). 216

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10, Number 2 (2009) Since women empowerment is the significant part of contemporary development policies of developing countries, it faces many problems. At the theoretical level there is much debate as to what empowerment comprises and how best it can be achieved (Kabeer, 1999). Women empowerment has dimensional focus and envisages greater access to knowledge, social and economic resources and greater autonomy in economic and political decision making process (Kabeer, 2005). Women empowerment seeks change in the sexual division of labor, equal access to food, health care, education credit and employment, ownership of assets and now access to media. The term “Empowerment” has been used to represent a wide range of concepts and to describe a proliferation of outcomes. The term has been used more often to advocate for certain types of policies and intervention strategies than to analyze them.

Consequently women empowerment as a ‘Millennium Development Goal’ could not be achieved because neither the World Bank nor any other major development agency has developed a rigorous method for measuring and tracking changes in levels of empowerment and to check which determinants can contribute it and which can not. Therefore, a study about determinants of women empowerment has considerable significance because it helps and guides the policy making bodies and funding agencies for development process. Since women empowerment is an imperative part of development process, it also faces different challenges because of its specific regional and religious attributes in the country like Pakistan. Pakistani Society is of highly patriarchal which is attributed to the age-old traditions of a subservient and subordinate role of women. A girl child in such a society is often grows up learning to serve and obey men, most of time decisions relating to her career, selection of future life Partner, no of children to be borne etc are made by male members of her family especially in remote and underdeveloped areas.

Multifaceted factors contribute to the subservient role played by the Pakistani women in the society, which also lead to conservative society and perpetuate vicious cycle of poverty under-nutrition and low level of education amongst Pakistani women. Women constitute approximately half of the population in Pakistan. Due to recent concern and emphasis on removing gender inequality and improving women empowerment as Millennium Developmental Goal, many efforts have been initiated by the Government and NGOs in Pakistan. According to UNDP’s Human Development Report, Gender Equality Measure (GEM) for South Asia shows the lowest value (0.235) among all the regions of the world. Further more, as per Gender development Index (GDI), Pakistan has been noted the poorest (0.179) among South Asian Countries where the average index is 0.226 (MHHDC, 2005).

According to UNDP report of 2007-08, the HDI for Pakistan is 0.551, which ranks Pakistan on 136th out of 177 countries. The foremost objective of this paper is to examine the determinants of women empowerment in remote areas of Pakistan. This study is different in the sense that it is attempted to discover such determinants for empowerment which match and suits with their specific cultural norms and don’t contradict with their religious teachings. The paper is organized as follows. Section II reviews literature on women empowerment both by national and international studies. Section III describes the data and Methodological issues. Section IV presents the empirical results and discussion. Finally, conclusion and suggestions are discussed in Section V.

II. Women Empowerment: A Review

A large number of studies relating to women empowerment in the world have been emerged during the past few decades. But very few studies have been attempted to address the issue of women empowerment in Pakistan especially based on empirical analysis. Nevertheless we present review of some of significant studies. Although the notion of women’s empowerment has long been legitimized by International development agencies1, what actually comprises empowerment, and how it is measured, is debated in European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10, Number 2 (2009) the development literature. Malhotra et al. (2003) provide considerable review of this debate. They explained many ways in which empowerment can be measured with six dimensions: economic, sociocultural, familial-interpersonal, legal, political and psychological. A number of studies have shown that women may be empowered in one area of life while not in others (Malhotra et al., 2003; Kishore and Gupta, 2004; Hashemi et al. 1996), while Williamson (1983) and Jejeebhoy and Sathar (2001) have studied women empowerment in different countries with special emphasis on demographic determinants.

Mahendra (2004) have studied the impact of economic participation and health and education on empowerment. Some researchers have attempted to measure the women empowerment with a variety of determinants and dimensions by different methods and techniques (Amin et al., 1998; Pradhan, 2003; Kishore and Gupta, 2004; Kabeer, 2005; Schüler, 2006; Klasen, 2006). They have also developed separate indices with different variables in their studies. Moreover the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index (GGI) also uses a broad range of dimensions and indicators (Lopez-Claros and Zahidi, 2005 and Klasen, 2006). After making brief review, we conclude that women are not just one group amongst several disempowered subsets of society (the poor, ethnic minorities, etc.); they are a cross-cutting category of individuals that overlaps with all these other groups.

Secondly, the variety of definitions regarding the concept of empowerment shows that it varies from region to region and culture to culture, so its determinants and measuring methods must also be varied. And thirdly the household and interfamilial relations are a central locus of women’s disempowerment in a way that is not true for other disadvantaged groups. This means that efforts at empowering women must be especially cognizant of the implications of broader policy action at the household level. Lastly, several authors argue that women’s empowerment requires systemic transformation in not just any institutions, but fundamentally in those supporting patriarchal structures. Now we present review of some Studies conducted in Pakistan both in the rural and urban areas, show that empowerment depicts different meanings and determinants because of the strong impact of the religion in the highly patriarchal society than the non-Islamic international society.

According to Mernissi (1987) and Papanek (1982) ‘Purdah’ and segregation of sexes in the Pakistani society limit women’s physical mobility and contacts by making them subordinate of the male members of the family. Since some studies analyzed demographic determinants of women empowerment in Pakistan, the results show that there is negative relationship of fertility rate, use of contraceptive, sex preference and family sizes with education, media exposure, nuclear family systems, availability of health facilities and spousal good relations (Ali et al., 1995; Ali and Sultan, 1999; Ali, 2000; Ali and Hussain, 2001; Sathar and Kazi, 2000; Ali and Haq, 2006). Female labor force participation is considered an important determinant of women empowerment (Ashraf and Ashraf, 1993; Kozel and Alderman, 1990; Azid et al., 2001).

Various studies concluded that education has strong positive relation with women empowerment in Pakistan and primary schooling for girls and enrolment rates are found to reduce gender inequality in education (Sathar and Lolyd, 1994; Sathar and Kazi, 2000; Rafiq, 19996; Chaudhry, 2007; Chaudhry and Rehman, 2009). The issues of gender discrimination and gender inequality are found obstacles in the way of empowerment. Education of the parents, media awareness and government policies are proved helpful to minimize its effects (Sathar and Lolyd 1993, Nazli and Hamid 1999).

Apart from the review of national and international literature, an attempt is made to include a new variable on women’s knowledge and perception of the concept of women empowerment in the religion of ‘Islam’. Since Islam is the religion of justice, harmony and of balance, there is no concept of discrimination based on sex or color. The almighty Allah has declared in Quran that Men and Women both are equal and granted them with equal rights and duties according to their specific nature and responsibilities.

Some researchers have presented an Islamic view point of women empowerment in their studies like Badawi,(1980); Muhammad,(1995); Tapper, (1995); Bugaje,(1997); Bahramitash, (2002) and (2003) and Farguis,(2005). Finally we conclude that women are facing a lot of problems in the form of socio-cultural norms, man dominated behavior, gender inequality in education and health facilities, disparity in rural and urban areas and ignorance of the basic rights of women in Islam. Since there is no significant study that addresses the issue of women empowerment in-depth in the areas of Southern Punjab, so this study fills the gap in research to analyze the key determinants of women empowerment in remote areas of Pakistan.

III. Data and Methodology

An adequate and reliable source of data and construction of variables are very important for an empirical analysis. In this study, primary data from Dera Ghazi Khan District of Southern Punjab is collected and employed for regression analyses. Profile of the study Area Punjab province of Pakistan is divided into three areas namely Upper Punjab, Central Punjab and Lower Punjab that is also called ‘Southern Punjab’. Southern Punjab included the divisions of Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. Dera Ghazi Khan District is chosen purposely as a study area and it is also considered most backward area in this region and has its own specific history and cultural norms. Dera Ghazi Khan District is divided into Rural, urban and tribal areas.

The status of women in these areas especially in rural and tribal areas is very vulnerable and they have very limited access to almost all basic facilities i.e. Health, Education, Job opportunities, outdoor mobility, political awareness and recreational facility along with better arrangements. Dera Ghazi Khan District has three Tehsils: Dera Gazi Khan Tehsil, Taunsa Sharif Tehsil and Tribal Area Tehsil named De-Excluded Area of D. G. Khan. According to the 1998 Census of Pakistan, the district had a population of 1,643,118 of which only 13.76 percent were urban. Data Sources and Selection of Variables Two Tehsils of the District are selected randomly D. G. Khan Tehsil and the Tribal Area Tehsil. Total 200 respondents are selected for survey using stratified random sampling technique. The authors filled in the questionnaire in English language by getting information in the local language. All the respondents are female of the age group of 14-65 years.

The respondent women chosen include all the married, Unmarried, working, non-working, educated and uneducated. Since D.G.Khan Tehsil is comparatively more populated, 150 respondents are selected from D.G.khan Tehsil in which 90 from rural areas and 60 from urban areas, while remaining 50 are chosen from the Tribal Area of D.G.Khan. Since the term “women empowerment” is a complex phenomenon and has multifaceted dimensions, a list of variables is constructed for making women empowerment indices and to identifying its determinants.

The summary of selected variables is presented in table1. According to our hypotheses, the independent variables like education of women (EDUC), years of women’s schooling (YOSC), doing any paid work (WORK), having bank account (BACT), access to media (MEDIA), opportunities for outing (OUTNG), per capita income of the household (PINC), participation rate (PART), dependency ratio (DEPR), education index of household (EDUI), age of women (AGRES), and marital status (MART), asset ownership by the respondent (ASSET) and knowledge of Islamic women empowerment (ISLAM) all have positive impact on cumulative women empowerment index (CEMP), which is also composite index of four separate indices. On the other hand, there are some explanatory variables which are hypothesized to have negative impact on CEMP, they are, joint family structure (FAMLY), living in a community not believing on typical outdated socio-cultural norms (CMUNTY), number of household members (NOHM), fear of violence from father/husband (VOIL) and distance of health unit from respondent’s home (DSHU).

Variable Description of Variables Explained Variable Cumulative women Empowerment Index = [1/4(PAUT)+1/4(FDMI)+1/4(EDCI)+1/4(POAT)] Where, PAUT: Personal Autonomy Index CEMP FDMI: Family Decision Making Index EDCI: Economic Domestic Consultation Index POAT: Political Autonomy Index Explanatory Variables Type of family structure = 1 if live as joint OR FAMLY = 0 if live as nuclear family structure Doing any paid work instead of domestic work = 1 if yes OR WORK = 0 if not Having any type of a bank account= 1 If yes OR BACT = 0 If not Access to any type of media =1 if yes OR MEDIA = 0 if not Going occasionally outside home for outing =1 if yes OR OUTNG = 0 if not Women living in a community that does not believe in typical outdated/ancient norms =1 if yes OR CMUNTY = 0 if otherwise

Marital status of women =1 if married OR MART = 0 single/widow/divorced Fear of violence from Husband/Father, if yes =1 OR VOIL if No = 0 Status of Women’s Education, If Educated =1 OR EDUC If not = 0 Women having assets =1 OR ASSET If not = 0 Having knowledge of Islamic concepts of Women Empowerment = 1, OR ISLM If not, = 0 LOG-PINC Natural Logarithm of Per capita income of the household DEPR Dependency ratio in a household PART Participation ratio of the household AGRES Age of women in years DSHU Distance of nearest health unit (in kilometers) YOSC Years of schooling of women EDUI Education Index of a household NOHM Number of household members

For the measurement of women empowerment, four indices are developed in making a cumulative index. A complete list of variables that are considered for women empowerment indices is given in Appendix A. Methodology for Empirical Analysis As far as the methodological issues are concerned, descriptive analysis and Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) method is used to find out the estimates. The (OLS) is attributed to Carl Friedrich Gauss, a German mathematician and is used in a wide range of economic relationships with fairly satisfactory results and despite the improvement of computational equipment and statistical information which facilitates the use of other more elaborate econometric techniques; OLS is still one of the commonly employed methods in estimating dependence of variables in econometric models. The R-squared value is used for goodness of fit that lies between 0 and 1. The value closer to one depicts the better fit. This shows that percentage of total variation in dependent variable that can be explained by the independent variables. If we have the following function, 220

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10, Number 2 (2009) Y = α + βi(X) + Ui α = Intercept X = Independent variables Y = Dependent variable Ui = Error term

IV. Results and Discussion

The major objective of this study is to identify the significant determinants of women empowerment based on primary source of data of 200 respondents in Pakistan. In this section before having the estimates of regression analysis, descriptive analysis is presented and given in table 2. Conventionally the descriptive analysis is based on the basic statistical concepts like Mean, Median, Standard Deviation, Minimum and Maximum values of the variables. In the first column, results show that the average women empowerment index (CEMP) is 0.4151. In the next columns, results show the values of Median, Standard Deviation, Minimum and Maximum. According to the results, minimum empowerment value is 0.0175 and while maximum is 0.8000. A complete detail of rest of variables can be observed from the estimates of table 2. Table 2: Descriptive Analysis of a Total Sample, n = 200


The results obtained from regression analysis are shown in Tables 3, 4, 5, and 6 for total Sample, of Urban Areas, Rural Area and of Tribal Areas respectively. The regression results based on total sample are reported in table 3 and suggest that the regression equation is overall significant and 51 percent variation in women empowerment is explained by explanatory variables. The slope estimates of all variables have the anticipated signs except YOSC. The variables BACT, OUTING, AGRES, and ISLAM are statistically significant at all levels and have positive impact on women empowerment. Similarly, MEDIA is statistically significant variable at 5 percent level while YOSC, FAMILY and MART are significant at 10 percent level. Since the years of schooling of women (YOSC) variable has negative sign instead of positive impact on women empowerment, it has significant effect on empowerment of Women. Reason is that it is not just enough to educate women but for their empowerment, education of her household head and community awareness is of equally important.

The regression results based on urban areas are reported in table 4. The regression is statistically significant overall and 58 percent variation in women empowerment is due to explanatory variables and depicts moderate goodness of fit. The regression partial coefficients have signs in accordance with the hypotheses except YOSC.

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10, Number 2 (2009) The regression results based on a sample of tribal areas are reported in table 6. In comparison with other sampled areas, tribal area is much backward and remote and having no proper infrastructure and facilities of life i.e. Education, health, transportation and even access to electricity. The overall regression model is statistically significant at all levels and 36 percent variation in women empowerment of tribal areas is due to explanatory variables given in table 6. All variables have same signs as were hypothesized and most significant variables are obtained MART and WORK. It means that those women are empowered in tribal areas who were married and working.

V. Conclusion and Suggestions

Women empowerment is one of the momentous issues of contemporary development policies in developing countries. Women empowerment is a complex and multidimensional process and requires multivariate analysis. The major objective was to explore the possible determinants of women empowerment using regression analysis based on primary data from a district of Southern Punjab. Considering its multidimensional nature and aspects, a cumulative Index for Women Empowerment is constructed consisting four diverse indices i.e. personal autonomy, family decision making, domestic economic decisions and political autonomy. The analysis is decomposed based on urban, rural and tribal areas.

The results show that joint family system, women having bank account, women access to media, women participation in excursion activities, age of women, married women and women having Islamic view point of women empowerment have statistically positive impact on women empowerment in a total sample of the study. The variables like women doing paid work, having bank account, access to media, participating in excursion activities, participation rate of a household and having knowledge of Islamic view point of women empowerment are significant variables and have positive impact on women empowerment in urban area as well.

Women doing paid work, participation rates and age of the woman have positive impact on women empowerment in rural areas while married women and doing paid work are the significant variables affecting women empowerment in tribal areas. It is also evident from the results that only married women are empowered in tribal areas. The results also show that the situation of women empowerment is better in urban areas due to access to education, health, media, outing facilities and job opportunities along with education of household and less rigid communities and most important good knowledge of Islamic teachings and its practice, while this situation is deteriorated in rural and tribal areas gradually due to lack of all these facilities. All empirical results are consistent with the studies reviewed in this paper. Not-withstanding the remarkable changes in the position of women in free Pakistan, there is still a great divergence between the constitutional position and stark reality of deprivation and degradation.

Whatever whiff of emancipation has blown in our society, has been inhaled and enjoyed by the urban women, their population belonging to the rural areas are still totally untouched by the wind of changes. They still have been living in miserable conditions, steeped in poverty, ignorance, superstition and slavery especially in remote areas of Pakistan. The last and present government of Pakistan has taken many steps for women empowerment but still these decisions have not been materialized so far in rural and remote areas of Pakistan. The present government should take some firm steps to reduce gender inequality in getting socio-economic benefits.

The main policy should be based on the elimination of gender discrimination in employment and should create conducive environment for more women participation in the labour force. Education can play a vital role in bringing about the desirable behavioral changes among the women and make them well equipped in terms of knowledge, competence and capacity to deal with different socio-economic problems. Nevertheless one of the basic policy objectives should be education of woman, the lack of which tends to perpetuate the unequal status and other socio-economic problems. The popular UNESCO slogan should come in handy: 224

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10, Number 2 (2009) “Educate a man and you educate an individual; educate a woman and you educate a family.” At the end, it is concluded that women empowerment which is declared as Millennium Development Goal by UNDP, could be achieved only when all concerned bodies will work in cooperation and understanding the factors analyzed in this paper. The society as a whole has to understand women’s capabilities and their contributions to the developmental process. Empowering Women is an important end in itself not only as human right issue but also as having the potential to enhance human well being. Empowering women and improving their status are essential ingredients for realizing the full potential of the economic and potential development of the entire society thus ensuring sustainable development.

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