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Enabling Women's Agency: Arab Women Speak Out
Unformatted Document Text:  Tracking #: ICA-19-11265 communication skills that I use in everyday life to gain more independence and help improve my family’s status," reported Miriam, a 27-year-old woman from Yemen. A participant from Jordan said: "I learned how to get a loan to improve my situation and become more independent." Self-efficacy with respect to these same areas of concern was also highly and significantly correlated with AWSO participation. Often, enhanced self-efficacy was linked to reconstructed gender perspectives as reflected in the statement by a woman from rural Jordan: "I realized that women are not merely reproductive engines but important and successful agents of social and economic change." A participant from Egypt noted, "I learned that women everywhere have hidden abilities and, if given the chance, their capabilities will take them to higher places, just like any man with similar abilities." Participants, on average, perceived that they had a broader base of social support for their economic and community activities than did non-participants. Many women reported increased support from their husbands following the training. Miriam, a 40-year-old woman from Egypt said, "Now my husband helps me with the household chores. He used to refuse my working, and now he agrees that I can work anywhere I choose. He now leaves his money with me instead of with his mother and he tells me where he is going." Participants in Arab Women Speak Out also reported significantly higher levels of agency, on average, than was true of non-participants. When contrasted with non-participants, participants were significantly more likely to have taken five of the six actions that are listed in Table 3. The training had a direct and immediate effect, as shown by the data in Table 3 and attested by the words of one participant: "I developed a passion for women’s empowerment and social affairs, so I took courses to learn counseling. Now I train other women." Associations between Independent and Dependent Variables Bivariate analysis of the key independent variable—participation in AWSO—and dependent variables found many significant associations as shown above. Those variables that showed significant bivariate associations were entered into regression equations. Individual variables for access to information, self-efficacy, social support and decision-making were summed as described above to develop indices. Table 3. Indicators of Active Agency, by Participation Status Variable Non- participants (n = 117) Participants (n =254) p value Actions taken Established new business over past 12 months Applied for a loan Worked to improve local health services Participated in community meetings Voted in the most recent election Talked with other women regarding negotiating skills 18.8 19.6 42.2 34.0 36.4 36.2 32.2 29.8 56.3 58.3 43.4 59.8 .011 .050 .005 .000 .070 .000 Agency index (mean)+ 2.5 3.5 .000 + Student’s t-test. (Range 0-7.) Source: 2001 Arab Women Speak Out Posttest Survey, JHU/CCP

Authors: Underwood, Carol R. and Jabre, Bushra.
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Tracking #: ICA-19-11265
communication skills that I use in everyday life to gain more independence and help improve my
family’s status," reported Miriam, a 27-year-old woman from Yemen. A participant from Jordan
said: "I learned how to get a loan to improve my situation and become more independent."

Self-efficacy with respect to these same areas of concern was also highly and significantly
correlated with AWSO participation. Often, enhanced self-efficacy was linked to reconstructed
gender perspectives as reflected in the statement by a woman from rural Jordan: "I realized that
women are not merely reproductive engines but important and successful agents of social and
economic change." A participant from Egypt noted, "I learned that women everywhere have
hidden abilities and, if given the chance, their capabilities will take them to higher places, just
like any man with similar abilities."

Participants, on average, perceived that they had a broader base of social support for their
economic and community activities than did non-participants. Many women reported increased
support from their husbands following the training. Miriam, a 40-year-old woman from Egypt
said, "Now my husband helps me with the household chores. He used to refuse my working, and
now he agrees that I can work anywhere I choose. He now leaves his money with me instead of
with his mother and he tells me where he is going."

Participants in Arab Women Speak Out also reported significantly higher levels of agency, on
average, than was true of non-participants. When contrasted with non-participants, participants
were significantly more likely to have taken five of the six actions that are listed in Table 3.
The training had a direct and immediate effect, as shown by the data in Table 3 and attested by
the words of one participant: "I developed a passion for women’s empowerment and social
affairs, so I took courses to learn counseling. Now I train other women."

Associations between Independent and Dependent Variables

Bivariate analysis of the key independent variable—participation in AWSO—and dependent
variables found many significant associations as shown above. Those variables that showed
significant bivariate associations were entered into regression equations. Individual variables for
access to information, self-efficacy, social support and decision-making were summed as
described above to develop indices.
Table 3. Indicators of Active Agency, by Participation Status
Variable
Non-
participants
(n = 117)
Participants
(n =254)
p value
Actions taken
Established new business over past 12 months
Applied for a loan
Worked to improve local health services
Participated in community meetings
Voted in the most recent election
Talked with other women regarding negotiating skills
18.8
19.6
42.2
34.0
36.4
36.2
32.2
29.8
56.3
58.3
43.4
59.8
.011
.050
.005
.000
.070
.000
Agency index (mean)+
2.5
3.5
.000
+ Student’s t-test. (Range 0-7.)
Source: 2001 Arab Women Speak Out Posttest Survey, JHU/CCP


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