Gender Methods Seminar today: Measuring Women’s Empowerment in Rural India Using Vignettes

Slides from the presentation are available at the end of this post.

Abstract: Many development projects have empowerment as one of their goals or as a means to achieve other development goals. Yet, the measurement of empowerment has proved very difficult and is riddled with technical and conceptual problems. Current approaches to measurement of empowerment rely on long questionnaires and, to some extent, on subjective perceptions which are not comparable across groups. In this paper we propose a method for measuring self-reported empowerment using anchoring vignettes and provide an application to a sample of rural women in Andhra Pradesh. This method is simple to administer and addresses biases in subjective perceptions. We show how perceptions vary systematically across groups and how they can be corrected for. We also show how the impact of a project on empowerment can be tested. In our application we find that most of the differences in self-reported empowerment are perceptual and that a self-help group intervention does not increase women’s empowerment.

Edoardo Masset is an agricultural and development economist with over 10 years experience in the field of impact evaluation of development programs. He has been involved in the design and implementation of several impact evaluations in the areas of education, nutrition, irrigation, school feeding, and poverty reduction. He has worked on the systematisation of knowledge and the promotion of evidence based policies through the production of systematic reviews in the following areas: health insurance, targeting, cost-effectiveness, agriculture, and nutrition. Main research interests include the analysis of poverty and vulnerability and the micro-econometric analysis of household surveys. Edoardo is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and prior to that he worked at the evaluation department of the World Bank.

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