Session 2b - Vigneri - Women's empowerment through collective action?
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Session 2b - Vigneri - Women's empowerment through collective action?



Presentation by Marcella Vigner (Oxfam) at "A Learning Event for the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index," held November 21, 2013 in Washington DC.

Presentation by Marcella Vigner (Oxfam) at "A Learning Event for the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index," held November 21, 2013 in Washington DC.



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  • Collaboration between Oxfam and researchers from IRAM (France), the University of Florida (Center for African Studies), as well as country based researchers from University of Sokoine and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania; from University of Addis Ababa and ‘Fair and Sustainable Trade’ in Ethiopia; and from CERCAD (Mali).Advisory group members include representatives of: IFPRI, Care, the Coady Institute, ODI, Oxfam America, Oxfam Novib, Oxfam Ireland among others, who have in different ways contributed to the design and implementation of this research.
  • 1. The rational for lowering the threshold was that close to 100% of women would have otherwise resulted as being empowered in some dimensions2. We took the decision to change the appropriate threshold for determining whether/when a respondent is sufficiently empowered and decided to be more conservative because we wanted respondents to be strongly in favor of a statement to determine they felt empowered3. the technical information on how to compile the index was being tested by OPHI at the time the RWCA teams completed collecting survey data
  • The questions we used in the WCA surveysallow measuring what might  be called women’s formal autonomy to make decisions intended to capture the outcome process of decisions taken rather than the motivation processIDMI constructed like the relative autonomy index (RAI) andduplicating the methods used to validate the constructionof the RAI.
  • So, while there may be a few areas where group members experience greater empowerment than non-members (e.g. credit, freedom of movement, control over agricultural income), the apparent economic benefits do not translate into broad-based improvements in decision-making. Decision-making over household assets and expenditures, for example, do not seem to be improved. However, these results are by no means conclusive and there is rich terrain here for more detailed research. Empowerment benefits are more consistently significant across countries, when membership of informal (e.g. Rotating Credit and Savings Associations and Self-Help Groups) as well as formal groups is considered – especially regarding decisions over credit. This highlights how informal groups play an important role in enabling women to benefit from collective action.
  • Practicality in the field - clear recommendation here is that message in wording of questions can be challenging in time constrained fieldwork with other components Multi-dimensionality of empowerment – but then difficult to aggregate (weighing?) Decision making vs autonomy… Adequacy thresholds – these were set low in WEAI for RWCA data Do women have different starting levels of empowerment ? (self selection in to groups – some evidence of this)

Session 2b - Vigneri - Women's empowerment through collective action? Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Women’s Empowerment through Collective Action? Marcella VIGNERI –Quantitative research component IFPRI Learning Workshop on WEAI- 21 Nov 13
  • 2. Researching Women’s Collective Action Research, learning and communications Oxfam project launched in 2009 with funding from Gates Builds on IFPRI work on gender and CA-focus on CA in markets for women Measure economic and empowerment impacts of CA to identify factors of success across ag sectors relevant for wider range of women smallholders.
  • 3. The research questions Research questions: • Q1 Which women participate in CA? • Q2 What economic and empowerment benefits do smallholder women derive from collective action in ag. markets? • Q3 How does collective action overcome women smallholders’ constraints to accessing and benefiting markets?
  • 4. Objective What empowerment benefits from collective action in ag. markets? compare 'empowerment' outcomes for women farmers participating in market oriented CA (treatment group - sample size c. 300) with women involved in the same sectors/ activities but not participating in CA groups (control group - sample size c. 600).
  • 5. Overview of Phase III Research Focus • Mali, Ethiopia, Tanzania – low-income countries – strong potential for ag. development. – Governments committed to rural econ transformation, and – all promoted agricultural cooperatives. • Shea, Honey, Vegetables – ‘high value’ with nation-wide growth Baseline survey: March – June 2012 Sample size: Approx 900 women/ country: • 300 WCA-members • 600 not WCA-members potential – export potential, internationally (honey, shea) and domestically (vegetables), – untapped opportunities for producers to move up value chains.
  • 6. Analytical Framework Comparing women members of WCAs with women non-members: 1. Treatment and Control 2. Women active in ag sub-sector of study 3. No measurement of gender parity
  • 7. Context for WEAI Adaption Conceptual and Technical appeal of WEAI 1. Measuring women’s empowerment in ag markets Indicators relevant at any geographical level 2. Menu of relevant dimensions: when is empowerment adequate? 3. Based on individual-level data information
  • 8. Rationale for changes made 1. Select domains and indicators suitable for project RQs 2. Adjust thresholds to allow variation across observations to estimate impact of WCA membership on empowerment 3. Re-rank attitudinal choices in some cases increased attitudinal threshold to ‘feels strongly’ or ‘highly able’ make an input (or actually take the decision) from original wording: ‘feels moderately’ able 4. Actual decisions vs perceptions of choices 5. …and Timing Design of RWCA fieldwork simultaneous to finalisation of WEAI methods: learning process
  • 9. Adjustments: step 1 Selection of key dimensions Kept three dimensions: Role in HH decision making - Access to productive capital - Decision making Added Freedom of movement dimension DOMAIN weight indicators weight Production 1/4 input in productive decisions 1/8 Ability to take autonomous decisions in production 1/8 ownership of assets 1/12 Resources 1/4 purchase, sale, or transfer of assets Access to credit and decisions on credit 1/12 1/12 Income 1/4 control over use of income 1/4 Freedom to move in the village space 1/8 Freedom to attend group meetings 1/8 Freedom of Movement 1/4
  • 10. Adjustments: step 2 ‘Tuning’ thresholds to the RWCA data EMPOWERMENT DIMENSION INCREASE of Threshold REASON Decision in agr activities From one domain to at least two domains. Virtually all women were empowered with one domain only Decision on income from agr Women must feel « highly able » to make a decision Threshold was too low for quality / significance of input in decision making Ownership of assets Raise to 3 small assets or two large asset or 2 small + at least one large Need to identify empowerment as something women ‘typically’ do not do. Rights over agr assets Exclude chicken and farming equipment from two asset threshold Exclude things women ‘typically’ own anyway Decision on HH exp Feel « highly able » to make a decision, on at least one domain (the latter is kept from original) Threshold was too low in terms of quality or significance of input in decision making (but number of domains is kept)
  • 11. Adjustments: step 3 Autonomy vs Actual decision making Measured actual decision making rather than autonomy in decision making Original wording of WEAI questionnaires did not work in the field (time constraints + time frame of actual survey exercise) RWCA measures the ‘formal’ ability to make decisions rather than ‘autonomy’ Derived Independence in Decision-making Index (IDMI)
  • 12. Illustration 1 MALI 1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 Members Non-members
  • 13. Illustration 2 TANZANIA 1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 Members Non-members
  • 14. Illustration 3 ETHIOPIA 1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 Members Non-members
  • 15. What empowerment benefits? • No systematic relationship between WCA membership and empowerment domains • Income gains not systematically associated with higher levels of empowerment – Women members are significantly more empowered than non-members in only some dimensions of empowerment (between 1 and 3 out of 8 in each country)
  • 16. Food for Thoughts Using empowerment measures Methodology: Adapting WEAI 1. Practicality in the field 2. Adequacy indicators thresholds adjusted upwards .. but how to calibrate 3. Aggregation: does it work and/or challenges for this type of research? 4. Decision making vs. autonomy Issues Do more empowered women self-select into groups Causality/endogeneity problems?
  • 17. THANK YOU Final report available @