Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life
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Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life

Edited by Deborah M. Figart and Tonia L. Warnecke

The Handbook illuminates complex facets of the economic and social provisioning process across the globe. The contributors – academics, policy analysts and practitioners from wide-ranging areas of expertise – discuss the methodological approaches to, and analytical tools for, conducting research on the gender dimension of economic life. They also provide analyses of major issues facing both developed and developing countries. Topics explored include civil society, discrimination, informal work, working time, central bank policy, health, education, food security, poverty, migration, environmental activism and the financial crisis.
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Chapter 4: Gender, well-being and civil society

Nisrine Mansour


How to optimize women’s well-being? This question has occupied the imagination of feminist researchers and activists since the start of the feminist movement more than a century ago. Feminist influences on development studies, economics, and political science developed the concept of women’s well-being as a way to reach the broader goal of gender equality and engage more effectively in collective action through civil society channels. Of course, answering this question depends on how we understand women’s identity and agency, and how we formulate well-being, gender equality, and civil society. Some of the most important contributions formulate women’s well-being in terms of economic achievement. Economic well-being is defined according to objective structural indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) and income levels, as well as poverty, literacy, and life expectancy indicators (Diener et al., 2009). This perspective intends to highlight the economic discrimination that many women around the globe face, particularly regarding labor market indicators. In the Middle East, for instance, the gender gap in employment is wider than in any other region; 67.7 percent of Middle Eastern men are employed, compared to only 20.5 percent of women (ILO, 2011, Table A5). However, the economic perspective of well-being often assumes a causal link between women’s economic empowerment and well-being.

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