The Multidimensional Nature of Women's Empowerment: Beyond the Economic Approach

Fitsum W. Bayissa*, Jeroen Smits, Ruerd Ruben

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Most interventions promoting women's empowerment focus on the economic dimension. Economic improvement is supposed to lead automatically to improvements in other dimensions. To test this assumption, we collected data from 508 women working in women groups in Addis Ababa. Besides the economic dimension, five other dimensions of empowerment were studied (familial, legal, psychological, political and socio-cultural). Findings show that the relationships between these six dimensions of empowerment are weak and that the psychological dimension is most central. The economic dimension is hardly connected to other dimensions. Hence, a broad package of interventions seems needed to achieve empowerment in all respects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-690
JournalJournal of International Development
Issue number4
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Economic dimension
  • Ethiopia
  • Multidimensional
  • Women's empowerment

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