Author(s): Mariam Abbas Soharwardi, Rabia Nazir, Misbah Akhtar
The current study is an attempt to evaluate the current status of women's empowerment in the selected countries of (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia, and Timor-Leste) south and Southeast Asia using Demographic Health Surveys. A women empowerment index is constructed through principal component analysis that includes nineteen indicators of women empowerment. The study specifically measures the empowerment of ever married women aged 15 to 49 at the household level. The relationship between extent of empowerment (low, medium or high) and stimulating factors of women empowerment is analyzed using chi-square tests and regression analysis. We find that the individual factors such as women’s education, age, and health appear to be more significant stimulating factors for women’s empowerment. Similarly, women’s age at first birth and the total number of children ever born have a significantly negative influence on women's empowerment. The education and age of the spouse, household wealth and gender of the household head being male also proved to be strong stimulating factors for women empowerment. Furthermore, high empowerment of females is found to be positively associated with better education, better health status, urban residence, higher level of household wealth in the study. We also find that the extent of women’s empowerment is highest in Nepal and lowest in Pakistan as compared to the other three countries.