International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)

Department

International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Cynthia Caron

Second Reader

Denise Humphreys Bebbington

Abstract

Women empowerment and gender equality are considered key aspects of achieving sustainable development goals. At the same time, the empowerment of women is also a process of change that enables women to build capacity in order to make life choices and act on them. Central to women empowerment is incorporating men into the process. Men should be included to deliver effective empowerment through collaboration and interdependence and to understand how women empowerment works in a patriarchal setting. Women’s economic empowerment such as Rural Economic Empowerment Project (RWEE) strives to empower and improve the status of rural women in Nepal. This study takes a qualitative approach to understand and examine the perspectives and lived experiences of women (project beneficiaries of RWEE) and their spouses (men) of what empowerment is and its significance in the context of the project. The study finds that women perceive the empowerment project have beneficial outcomes in their economic and social aspects with regard to better household decision making, income generation, mobility, and family well-being. In addition, men also bring a positive and progressive view on the changing roles of women in the village. Despite significant development of women, gender equality is perceived to be relatively persistent given that Nepal is a patriarchal society, and that strategic gender inclusive laws are not effectively implemented in all sectors of the country. This study aims to bring forth the varied perspectives and lived experiences of what women empowerment is from the rural beneficiaries of the empowerment project. It also informs that empowerment is multifaceted and requires an intersectional approach to achieve empowerment of women. Similarly, incorporating men into women empowerment projects in a country like Nepal can support to address inherent structures of gender inequalities and subordination both in grassroots and policy level.

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