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Whether work is performed for household members’ consumption (subsistence work) or for sale to others (market work), it may be an enabling resource for women’s agency, or their capacity to define and act upon their goals. The present paper asks: Do women who engage in market work have higher agency in the three domains of economic decision-making, freedom of movement, and equitable gender role attitudes, compared to those who engage in subsistence work and those who do not work? To address this question, we leverage data from a probability sample of ever-married women in rural Minya, Egypt (N = 600). We use structural equation models with propensity score adjustment to estimate the relationship between women’s work and three domains of their agency. We find no effect on gender attitudes or decision making. However, women’s subsistence and market work are associated with increasingly higher factor means for freedom of movement, compared to not working. We conclude that in rural Minya, the relationship between women’s work and their agency depends on the type of work they perform and the dimension of agency under consideration, with the rewards of market work exceeding those of subsistence work in the domain of freedom of movement alone.
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- Is Women’s Work a Pathway to their Agency in Rural Minya, Egypt?
Yuk Fai Cheong
Kathryn M. Yount
- Publication date
- Springer Netherlands
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