NET RESOURCES: Measuring women’s empowerment in agriculture: A streamlined approach

Our friends at IFAD recently published a manual about measuring women's empowerment. This publication is part of IFAD's research series, which you can access more of here.

Click here to access the full manual.


The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) can be a useful tool to measure the empowerment, agency and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector. It is an aggregate measure based on several dimensions ranging from decisions about and control over resources to gender parity within the household. However, computing the WEAI in its current form involves large data requirements, resulting in lengthy surveys with several questions on various dimensions and indicators within each dimension. This paper proposes a reduced version of the WEAI, or the R-WEAI, to reduce the data requirements, and consequently the cost of surveys and survey fatigue, for constructing a measure of women’s empowerment while ensuring comparability to the full WEAI. Broadly, two possible approaches can be taken to reduce the WEAI – reducing the number of indicators required to construct the index, or retaining all the indicators, but reducing the number of survey questions required to compute each indicator. We find that, among the different possible ways to reduce the WEAI discusse in this paper, the closest a reduced version comes to the full WEAI results from performing a multiple correspondence analysis to retain fewer questions for each indicator in the survey. We use four different datasets for our analysis – three from IFPRI-supported pilot projects (in Bangladesh, the Western Highlands of Guatemala and Uganda) and the fourth from an IFAD-funded project in the Valle del Polochic of Guatemala. We also perform additional analyses to further validate the robustness of the R WEAI and examine other contextual factors, such as educational attainment, age gap between spouses, household wealth, etc. that may affect the full WEAI and the R-WEAI.

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