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Measuring Agency among Unmarried Young Women and Men

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In order to draw out and measure dimensions of agency (the capacity to make choices through the acquisition of a sense of self and a sense of personal competence) among unmarried young women and men, a survey was undertaken among young people in rural and urban slum settings in Pune. It looked at three key dimensions - mobility, decision-making and sense of self-worth. The findings show that agency was clearly constrained among youth in this setting, irrespective of gender and the rural-urban divide. Second, young women had significantly lower levels of agency than young men on mobility and decision-making, but appeared to have a significantly higher sense of self-worth. Third, the rural-urban differences were negligible and considerably narrower than gender differences. Fourth, older respondents were progressively more likely to report agency on all three dimensions. Age and education were consistently and positively associated with almost every measure of agency for both young women and men.

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