Introduction: The Intersections of Women’s Economic and Reproductive Empowerment

Sarah Gammage, Shareen Joshi & Yana van der Meulen Rodgers

This article examines the connections between women’s reproductive health, care responsibilities, and the quality of work. The research suggests that the economic empowerment of women, manifest in their choice of where and when to work, and of the terms and conditions of that work, is intimately linked to reproductive empowerment and reproductive outcomes. Simplistic discourse in development policy about educating girls and getting women into the labor force will not translate into goals being met unless attention is paid to women’s reproductive health and rights. This analysis highlights the data limitations inherent in existing surveys that frustrate a more-nuanced inquiry into employment and fertility outcomes. Analysts and statistical agencies responsible for household and labor force survey design could certainly apply some of the information they gain from questions that elicit retrospective histories of contraception and fertility to inform their interpretations of women’s employment history, job quality, and labor market intermittency.

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