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It has been assumed that paid work leads to greater autonomy for women. This dissertation focuses on how education and employment relate to different dimensions of autonomy. Four dimensions of autonomy are discussed. They are economic decision making, ability to take care of self when sick, freedom from violence and freedom of mobility. Secondary and higher education are associated with greater autonomy in economic decision making, ability to take care of self when sick and freedom of mobility. However, they do not automatically lead to increased freedom from violence. The relationship between work and autonomy is more complicated than that of education and autonomy. To get a clearer picture of the association between work and autonomy, this study focuses on three different dimensions of work, namely work status (work and do not work), type of remuneration (cash and non cash), and type of employment (work for someone else, family worker and selfemployed). Generally, women who work for cash display greater autonomy in all dimensions than non working women and working women who are not paid in cash. Some types of work are more strongly associated with autonomy than others. In particular, there are differences between the self-employed and family workers. The first show greater autonomy than the latter. The difference in level of employment between these two groups relates to the nature of employment. Women who are self-employed develop skills to negotiate with various parties, own capital, albeit small, and control profit. In contrast, family workers work under the supervision of family members, who often co-reside with them, hence they have no greater autonomy at work. Therefore labor force participation does not increase their autonomy at home. The finding suggests the importance of looking at the meaning of work in a more critical manner. Participation in paid work is often construed as a sign of modernity, therefore it is commendable. However, there is a wide array of reasons why women work and types of employment. Some of them generate autonomy, while some perpetuate patriarchal relations. The study also finds that some types of work are associated with lower levels of autonomy. In particular, self-employed and family workers have higher odds of ever having been beaten than non-working women. In this case, the true causal factor is likely to be poverty and male employment.
A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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