Gender-transformative action, social norms and economic empowerment

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Tara Patricia Cookson University of British Columbia, Canada

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Ruth Carlitz University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Alex Berryhill CARE USA, USA

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Lorena Fuentes Ladysmith, USA

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Feminist advocacy for ‘gender transformative’ approaches to development, public policy and humanitarian action that account for social norms has surged in recent years. This article intervenes in the debate around norms and implications for transformative approaches. We draw on a unique set of quantitative, global ‘gender data’ collected in 2020 and 2021 and examine how social norms inform women’s experiences of economic empowerment, as well as how these relationships map onto the current debates around interventions to address social norms and the form these interventions ought to take. Our data show that social norms matter for access to and control over resources; in addition, they illustrate that an individual belief in gender equality is fairly common around the world but that such individual beliefs frequently do not coincide with what people think their neighbours believe. These findings suggest a need for consideration of factors beyond individual attitudes towards and beliefs in gender-transformative interventions for women’s economic empowerment.

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Tara Patricia Cookson University of British Columbia, Canada

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Ruth Carlitz University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Alex Berryhill CARE USA, USA

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Lorena Fuentes Ladysmith, USA

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