Date of Submission

Spring 2017

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Sanjaya DeSilva

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In my project, I try to trace how our present understanding of gender empowerment is formed, and how mainstream economics literature has accommodated feminist contributions to the concept. I look at neoclassical household models, feminist critiques of the same models, foundational ideas on gender empowerment, and finally the current development economics literature on empowerment. I find that the concept of choices and preferences, and in particular the formation of preferences, is central to understanding gender empowerment. I deduce that a) empowerment is both a process and an outcome, b) that the end goal of empowerment is the access to resources as well as individual agency, and c) that empowerment as a process, in the intermediary stages, means that women play an active role in defining and creating the opportunities that lead them to be empowered. In the current political participation literature, I find that the assumption of fixed, individual preferences is losing its quality of being central to understanding economic behavior. Keywords: individual preferences, empowerment, gender, development JEL Classifications: I14, I24, I32, I38, J13, J16, O15

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Creative Commons License

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