A Critical Analysis of the Initial Assumptions Concerning the Theoretical Foundations of the Indicators of Empowering Women

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D. Candidate of Economics, Tabataba'i University Allameh

2 Corresponding Author: Full Professor, Faculty of Economics, Tabataba'i University Allameh

3 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economics, Tabataba'i University Allameh


One way to judge economic development is to use the relevant index and using the index requires understanding how it is calculated and its implications. This article examines women's empowerment index. The studies carried out in Iran have not considered the fundamentals of this index and have not defined empowerment on the basis of the needs and culture of Iranian women. This study mainly aims at examining the relationship between the initial assumptions of the empowerment index and the analysis of this index. It further seeks to answer this question: ‘Is it possible to offer a universal definition of women's empowerment?’ An attempt has been made to answer this question through thematic analysis and thematic layer analysis and by examining the theoretical foundations of empowerment index in the comparative framework of feminist, neoclassical and Islamic economics. The purpose is to show empowerment assumptions lie within the context of which economic perspective and how researchers can be assisted to use and analyze this index. To this end, the assumptions equality, equality in outcomes or opportunities, academic equity, women's housework, men’s being breadwinner and the job equality of men and women have been identified and analyzed in defining this index. The most important result of this research is that women's empowerment index is based on Amartya Sen’s capability and functionality theory and feminist economics. This indicator is not universal and depends on the situation. Its theoretical foundations in the 1995 Human Development Report have some contradictions that can be resolved by Islamic justice.


Anker , Richard , 1998, Gender and Jobs: Sex Segregation of Occupations in the World, International Labour Office,  M01 1 - 444 pages
Berik, Gu¨ nseli, Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, and Joseph Zveglich. 2009. ‘‘International Trade and Gender Wage Discrimination: Evidence from East Asia.’’ Review of Development Economics 8(2): 237 54.
Boschini, Anne. 2003. ‘‘The Impact of Gender Stereotypes on EconomicGrowth.’’ Research Papers in Economics 2003: 4, Department of Economics, Stockholm University.
Braun,V. & Clarke,V. ,2006, “Using thematic analysis in psychology”, Qualitative Research in Psychology, Vol. 3, No. 2: 77-101.
CIDA : Canadian International Development Agency ,1997, Guide to Gender-Sensitive Indicators, Canada: http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/INET/IMAGES.NSF/vLUImages/Policy /$file/WID-GUID-E.pdf
Demetriades ,Justina,2007, Based on BRIDGE‟s Gender and Indicators Cutting Edge Pack. http://www.bridge.ids.ac.uk/reports_gend_CEP.html#Indicators.
HDR:Human Development Reports, 1995 , United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) , hdr.undp.org.
Imp-Act ,2005 ,Choosing and Using Indicators for Effective Social Performance Management‟, Imp-Act Practice Notes No. 5, Brighton: IDS http://www.ids.ac.uk/ impact/publications/practice_notes/PN5_Indicators.pdf
Momsen, Janet D. Women and Development in the Third World. Routledge, London. 115 p., 1991. Published in Japanese by Kokon Shoin Ltd, 1999.
Moser, Annalise, 2007, GENDER and INDICATORS Overview Report, BRIDGE (Development-Gender), Institute of development Studies, University of Suxess, Brighton.
Nelson, Julie A. 1995. "Feminism and Economics." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 9 (2): 131-148.DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.2.131
Safa HI.1995. The Myth of the Male Breadwinner: Women and Industrialization in the Caribbean. Boulder: Westview Press
Sen, Amartya. 1985. “Well-being, Agency and Freedom: The Dewey Lectures 1984” Journal of Philospophy. 82(4): 169–221.
Volume 14, Issue 48
Fall Quarterly 1398
November 2019
Pages 169-187
  • Receive Date: 03 March 2019
  • Revise Date: 11 September 2019
  • Accept Date: 18 September 2019