THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Women’s Autonomy and Happiness:The Case of Pakistan
It is generally believed that “autonomy” brings happiness and satisfaction in women’s lives. In this study we examine whether or not the established autonomy indicators are a source of “happiness” for Pakistani women. By using the nationally representative data, only two indicators, i.e., “women’s education” and “decisionmaking authority”, prove to be important factors in finding “very happy” status in women’s life. Additionally, “possession of assets” also proves to be an important factor in providing the “very happy” status in a women’s life. However, the “possession and utilisation of assets” and “going alone outside the house” are not important indicators of a “very happy” status in women’s life in Pakistan and “Labour force participation” is indicative of unhappiness. The results of this study show that not all established indicators of autonomy bring about happiness in the lives of Pakistani women. This is because Pakistani society differs from other societies, in particular the western society, and hence the concept of “autonomy” in bringing about “happiness” in the lives of Pakistani women yields effects different from those in other societies. Thus, there is a need to focus on the advocacy of only those autonomy variables which lead to happiness in a woman’s life, which is the end-goal for women, who form a vital part of the society.