35 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: November 2000
State policies can enormously influence gender equity. They can mitigate cultural constraints on women's autonomy (as in China and India) or slow the pace of change in gender equity (as in the Republic of Korea). Policies to provide opportunities for women's empowerment should be accompanied by communication efforts to alter cultural values that limit women's access to those opportunities.
Das Gupta, Lee, Uberoi, Wang, Wang, and Zhang compare changes in gender roles and women's empowerment in China, India, and the Republic of Korea. Around 1950, these newly formed states were largely poor and agrarian, with common cultural factors that placed similar severe constraints on women's autonomy. They adopted very different paths of development, which are well known to have profoundly affected development outcomes. These choices have also had a tremendous impact on gender outcomes, and today these countries show striking differences in the extent of gender equity achieved. China has achieved the most gender equity, the Republic of Korea the least. The authors conclude that:
States can exert enormous influence over gender equity. They can mitigate cultural constraints on women's autonomy (as in China and India) or slow the pace of change in gender equity despite women's rapid integration into education, formal employment, and urbanization (as in the Republic of Korea).
The impact of policies to provide opportunities for women's empowerment can be greatly enhanced if accompanied by communication efforts to alter cultural values that place heavy constraints on women's access to those opportunities.
This paper - a product of Poverty and Human Resources, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to examine the institutional bases of social inclusion and poverty reduction.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Das Gupta, Monica and Lee, Sunhwa and Uberoi, Patricia and Wang, Danning and Wang, Lihong and Zhang, Xiaodan, State Policies and Women's Autonomy in China, India, and the Republic of Korea, 1950-2000: Lessons from Contrasting Experiences (November 2000). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2497. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=632567