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Economic autonomy of women

Modified on 2015/05/22 04:26 by Sean Zheng Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 2 - Poverty
Table II. 13

From gender issues to gender statistics on economic autonomy of women: illustrative examples

Policy-relevant questions Data needed Sources of data
Do women earn cash income as often as men and do they earn as much as men? Employment by type of income and sex.

Value of individual income by sex.
Household surveys, such as living standards surveys, labour force surveys, DHS and MICS.

Living standards surveys, such as LSMS and EU-SILC.
Do women own land as often as men and do they own as much as men? Do women appear on housing property titles as often as men? Individual ownership of land by sex.

Distribution of land size by sex of the owner.

Distribution of housing property titles by sex of the owner.
Household surveys, such as living standards surveys, population and housing censuses, agricultural censuses and surveys.

Multipurpose household surveys and administrative records.
Do women apply for and obtain credit as often as men? Are some types and sources of credit associated with women more often than with men? Applicants for credit by sex, purpose of credit, source of credit and approval response. Household surveys.

  • + Gender issues
    • Women’s income tends to be smaller, less steady and more often paid inkind than men’s. More women than men work in vulnerable employment with low or no cash returns and women spend more of their time on unpaid domestic tasks (United Nations, 2010). This gender division of labour increases women’s economic dependency on men. When men with higher earnings or a pension are not around anymore because of divorce, migration or death, women as lone mothers and older women living alone have a higher risk of poverty (United Nations, 2010). The employment of women in non-standard or atypical work decreases their chances of benefits associated with maternity or unemployment and results in fewer assets in formal pension systems (United Nations, 2009b; World Bank, 2011). Even in countries where women are covered as often as men by the pension system, the amount accumulated in pensions is much lower for women than for men, mainly because of women’s smaller contribution to the social security system (United Nations, 2009b).

      In many countries, women have less access than men to ownership of land, housing, livestock and other property. Elements of gender inequality with regard to inheritance rights, rights to acquire and own land and rights to own property other than land have been identified in many countries (United Nations, 2009b, 2010; UNECE, and World Bank Institute, 2010; World Bank, 2011). In such countries, women are at a disadvantage in terms of their access to ownership of economic assets at various stages of their life cycle. For instance, not all women are able to obtain their share of inheritance: upon marriage, their rights to or control over the property may be transferred to their husband or they may lose control of the household property when they become widows. Even if there are no formal restrictions, women may not be able to obtain property that is rightfully theirs owing to a lack of knowledge about their entitlements or a lack of information and means with regard to obtaining the property.

      Women’s chances of obtaining formal credit are smaller than men’s. On the one hand, women lack income and property ownership to be used as collateral more often than men; on the other hand, women may have more difficulty than men in obtaining loans for developing their business, since women’s businesses are more often in informal and low-growth sectors (United Nations, 2009b; UNECE, and World Bank Institute, 2010; World Bank, 2011). The type of credit accessed and the source of the credit also tend to vary between women and men. Women may be just as successful as men in accessing microcredit that would help them to escape temporarily from poverty, but not as successful as men in accessing the credit necessary to start a business and which would ensure their long-term removal from poverty (United Nations, 2009b; UNECE, and World Bank Institute, 2010; World Bank, 2011).

  • + Data needed
    • Data needed to analyse the economic autonomy of women may refer to:

      (a) Access to income, such as:

      (i) Individual access to cash income by sex and regularity of source of income;

      (ii) Monetary value of individual income by sex;

      (b) Ownership of assets, such as:

      (i) Individual ownership of housing property by sex;

      (ii) Individual ownership of land by sex;

      (iii) Distribution of land size by sex of the owner;

      (iv) Individual ownership of livestock by sex and type of livestock;

      (v) Distribution of livestock size by type of livestock and sex of the owner;

      (vi) When data on asset ownership are collected through household surveys, information may also be obtained on how the assets were acquired, how much they are worth, and whether female and male household members have decision-making power regarding their use and disposal (UNECE, and World Bank Institute, 2010);

      (vii) Contextual information on property and inheritance rights that may discriminate against women should be gathered from non-statistical sources, such as qualitative studies of laws or cultural norms that may have a gender-differentiated impact on access to property;

      (c) Access to credit, such as:

      (i) Individual use of credit by sex, purpose of credit and source of credit. Individual use of credit should be further disaggregated by individual ownership of key assets, such as land, housing and major durable goods, in order to see, for example, whether a lack of housing, land or other assets leads women to make use of informal or semi-formal sources of credit.

  • + Sources of data
    • Living standards surveys, such as LSMS, usually include questions on access to various types of economic resources, such as income, land and other property, and credit. In countries in the less developed regions, household surveys may not include detailed data on individual income, but may be the only source of data on use of credit from all types of sources of credit. In the more developed regions, surveys such as EU-SILC usually collect data on income at the individual level.

      LSMS-ISA surveys may be used to collect data at the individual level on asset ownership and access to various types of economic resources, including agricultural resources. Information on control over household resources is collected at the disaggregated level of agricultural subholdings (such as plots of land and types of livestock) and subholders (the main decision-maker or manager for a particular subholding).

      Demographic and health surveys, such as DHS, provide data on access to cash income.

      Population and housing censuses may be used to collect data on property ownership, although most of the time the data are collected at the household level, without taking into account joint ownership.

      Agricultural censuses and surveys may be used to collect data on land and livestock ownership and on the “agricultural holder” (basically defined as the decision-maker or manager), although most of the time the data are collected at the household or agricultural holding level, without taking into account joint ownership or decision-making. Agricultural surveys are a potential source of individual data on use of agricultural credit.

  • + Conceptual and measurement issues
    • In less developed regions, individual income and its share in the total household income are difficult to measure and may be more severely underrepresented for women. In these regions, a substantial part of income comes from household agricultural production, non-farm self-employment income or commodities obtained from natural resources. It is difficult not only to measure the exact income generated through these activities, but also to calculate separate income for women and men when the work is done together. Activities that do not generate cash income, done by women more often than by men, are more likely to be excluded from the calculation of income. For example, women are often involved in producing food for own consumption. If this work is not taken into account, women’s income and their contribution to the household income is underreported. By comparison, cash income from paid employment, obtained by men more often than by women, is easier to measure and therefore more likely to be taken into account.

      The status of women and men in regard to ownership and their decision-making roles in regard to land may be misrepresented when data are collected at the level of total area managed by the household. In some countries, distinct areas of land are owned or managed separately by the wife and the husband. In such cases, data on ownership of and control over land should be collected at the level of individual plots of land by ownership and persons involved in decision-making (Fuwa and others, 2000). It is also important to identify the owner of the assets separately from the decision-maker or manager of the business.

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