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Agency and Empowerment: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators

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  • Solava Ibrahim
  • Sabina Alkire

Abstract

This article proposes a short list of internationally comparable indicators of individual agency and empowerment (and the corresponding survey questions). Data from these indicators would enable researchers to explore research and policy issues such as the interconnections between empowerment and economic or human development. The paper surveys definitions of agency and empowerment and adopts the definition from Amartya Sen, supplemented by Rowlands' typology. The proposed “shortlist” of indicators includes: control over personal decisions; domain-specific autonomy; household decision-making; and the ability to change aspects in one's life at the individual and communal levels. The strengths and weaknesses of each indicator are discussed, as is the need to supplement this shortlist with other variables. To ensure the feasibility of the proposal, we rely on previously fielded questions wherever possible.

Suggested Citation

  • Solava Ibrahim & Sabina Alkire, 2007. "Agency and Empowerment: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 379-403.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:35:y:2007:i:4:p:379-403
    DOI: 10.1080/13600810701701897
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    1. World Bank, 2001. "World Development Report 2000/2001," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 11856.
    2. Ruth Alsop & Mette Bertelsen & Jeremy Holland, 2006. "Empowerment in Practice : From Analysis to Implementation," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6980.
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