Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index
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Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index
The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index is a significant new breakthrough in the measurement of women’s empowerment in developing countries. The index was produced through a partnership with the US government’s Feed the Future initiative, the US Agency for International Development, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative of Oxford University. It directly captures women’s empowerment and inclusion in the agricultural sector.
The index was previously launched at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, and the Global Conference on Women in Agriculture in New Delhi, India, as well as at events in London and Washington D.C.
The index focuses on five areas: decisions over agricultural production, power over productive resources such as land and livestock, decisions over income, leadership in the community, and time use. Women are considered to be empowered if they have adequate achievements in four of the five areas. The index also takes into consideration the empowerment of women compared with men in the same household.
The index was developed to track the change in women’s empowerment that occurs as a direct or indirect result of US government interventions under the Feed the Future initiative’s programs to tackle global hunger and food security. However, users from governments, research institutes, and international organizations will be able to modify it to fit their specific needs and cultural context.
The Five Domains of Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture
The index uses information collected in household surveys to determine how empowered a woman is in five domains of empowerment (5DE), which include:
- agricultural production and income generation;
- power over productive resources such as land and livestock;
- control of income and expenditures;
- eadership in the community; and
- use of time.
The production indicator measures if the woman has sole or joint decision making over food and cash-crop farming, livestock, and fisheries, as well as autonomy in agricultural production decisions. The resources indicator refers to ownership, access to, and decision making power over productive resources such as land, livestock, agricultural equipment, consumer products, and credit. The income indicator measures sole or joint control over income and expenditures. Leadership is measured by membership in economic or social groups and comfort speaking in public. The time indicator measures the allocation of time to productive and domestic tasks and satisfaction with available time for leisure activities. Overall, a woman is considered empowered if she has adequate achievements in a combination of the weighted indicators that total 80 percent, equivalent to four of the five domains.
Measuring the 5DE results in a number ranging from zero to one, where higher values indicate greater empowerment. The score has two components. First, it reflects the percentage of women who are empowered. Second, it reflects the percentage of domains in which those women who are not yet empowered already enjoy adequate achievements.
The Gender Parity Index (GPI)
The WEAI also measures how empowered a woman is relative to the man in her household using the gender parity index (GPI). The innovative GPI ranges from zero to one, with higher values indicating greater gender parity. This sub-index is similar to the 5DE. First, it reflects the percentage of women who enjoy gender parity, that is, the percentage of women who are as empowered as the men in their households. Second, for women who do not enjoy gender parity, the GPI shows the percentage shortfall she experiences relative to the male in her household. The final “WEAI score” for a region or country is calculated based on formulas that take these four measures into account.
A key innovation of the index is its capacity to show the number of areas in which women are empowered while revealing the connections among areas of disempowerment. This enables decisionmakers to focus on specific improvements to areas or women that need the most help. For example, program managers in the US government’s Feed the Future initiative, for which the index was originally designed, can target those domains in which women are disempowered in specific countries and design programs to meet their needs. The index can also be used to survey participants of a project and diagnose the areas of empowerment that are lacking. If the survey indicates women have low resources, program managers could target that as a key area of intervention.
Another value of the index is in its flexibility: users from governments, research institutes and international organizations will be able to modify it to fit their specific needs and cultural context. The index can also be used to track changes that occur after a project is introduced. If the project increases the work burden of women, for example, it could lead to disempowerment. If it gives the control of income to men, then it might reduce gender equity. These are important, but subtle, impacts of development interventions that the index is better suited to measure than existing monitoring and evaluation indicators.
For more information on the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index please see:
- Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (website)