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What's measured, matters: Lessons from the WEAI - GAAP2 Inception Workshop

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An inception workshop for the Gender, Agriculture & Assets Project Phase 2 (GAAP2) titled Developing Project-Level Indicators to Measure Women’s Empowerment was held in January 2016.

In this presentation, Agnes Quisumbing of IFPRI introduces the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). The presentation covers the scope of the WEAI, its relevance, the indicators that make up the index, its uses and its criticisms.

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What's measured, matters: Lessons from the WEAI - GAAP2 Inception Workshop

  1. 1. What’s measured, matters: Lessons from the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) Agnes Quisumbing and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, IFPRI Presentation at the GAAP2 Inception Workshop, ICRAF, Nairobi, January 27-29, 2016
  2. 2. Motivation—1  Empowering women increasingly viewed as an end in itself, and not just an instrument for achieving other development outcomes by governments and development organizations, including BMGF, USAID, and the partner organizations represented here  Yet, there have been very few established metrics for measuring women’s empowerment.  Two schools of thought:  (1) impossible to measure empowerment (at least, in a quantitative sense); but  (2) if we don’t measure it, how can we evaluate it, as a target?
  3. 3. Motivation—2  Measures such as the Gender Gap Index (World Economic Forum), Gender Inequality Index (UNDP) or the Social Institutions and Gender Index (OECD) do not relate to agriculture, are not sufficiently disaggregated, or do not change rapidly enough to capture impacts during the project period  Working with USAID and OPHI, IFPRI has developed the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) for monitoring women’s empowerment in Feed the Future Initiative projects  What have we learned from 3 years of WEAI experience, and how can we make this relevant to projects addressing agriculture and nutrition?
  4. 4. Outline of the presentation  What is the WEAI?  Uses of the WEAI: Diagnostics and analysis  Criticisms of the WEAI: Problems and possible solutions
  5. 5. What is the WEAI? 5
  6. 6. What is the WEAI?  The WEAI was developed by IFPRI, USAID, and OPHI in 2012 to measure the greater inclusion of women in the agricultural sector as a result of US Government’s Feed the Future (FTF) Initiative  It is a survey-based index constructed using interviews of the primary male and primary female adults in the same household  Details on index construction in Alkire et al. (2013), World Development 6
  7. 7. Scope of the WEAI  Focus is strictly on empowerment in agriculture, distinct from:  Economic status  Education  Empowerment in other domains This enables clear analysis of external determinants of empowerment in agriculture.  WEAI is designed for international comparisons; (some) local adaptation possible.
  8. 8. How is the Index constructed? Five domains of empowerment (5DE) A direct measure of women’s empowerment in 5 dimensions Gender parity Index (GPI) Women’s achievement’s relative to the primary male in hh Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) WEAI is made up of two sub indices All range from zero to one; higher values = greater empowerment
  9. 9. Fivedomainsofempowerment A woman’s empowerment score shows her own achievements
  10. 10. Who is empowered? A woman who has achieved ‘adequacy’ in 80% or more of the weighted indicators is empowered
  11. 11. Gender Parity Index (GPI) Reflects two things: 1. The percentage of women who enjoy gender parity. A woman enjoys gender parity if  she is empowered or  if her empowerment score is equal to or greater than the empowerment score of the primary male in her household. 2. The empowerment gap - the average percentage shortfall that a woman without parity experiences relative to the male in her household.
  12. 12. Instrument development (2011-2012)  Tested feasibility in a real-world setting before scale-up  Pilot surveys: New survey instrument was piloted in 3 countries (Bangladesh, Guatemala, Uganda), with ~350 households/625 individuals each, focusing on the Feed the Future zones of influence  Representative of the zone of influence (not nationally)  Case studies consisted of interviews on five domains with narratives to explain answers, describe “life stories,” and get concepts of empowerment from men and women themselves “Being empowered, it means that the woman can do things too, not just the man” ~ Woman, Guatemala aged 63
  13. 13. Lilian, Uganda Empowerment Score = 83% Has achieved parity with her husband Wilson
  14. 14. Lilian is Empowered
  15. 15. Relevance for policymaking The WEAI can be used to: 1) Track changes over time in 5DE 2) Show how to increase women’s empowerment by identifying disempowerment gaps 3) Monitor progress toward gender equality
  16. 16. Launch, roll-out, baseline, adoption, adaptation  2012: WEAI launched at side event of UN Committee on Status of Women, WEAI rolled out in 19 Feed the Future countries  2013: Baseline data collection in population-based surveys (PBS) in FTF Zone of Influence  2014: Global Synthesis Report released May 2014 with findings from 13 countries  2015: Development of A-WEAI (6-indicator WEAI) for use in midterm surveys by USAID; thus far 55 external users of WEAI and adaptations thereof (problem of ad hoc adaptation)
  17. 17. Uses of the WEAI Diagnostics and analysis
  18. 18. Cross-country baseline findings: credit, workload, and group membership are most important constraints across countries 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 Bangladesh Liberia Tajikistan Ghana Kenya Honduras Nepal Zambia Haiti Malawi Uganda Rwanda Cambodia DisempowermentIndex(1-5DE) Leisure Workload Speaking in public Group member Control over use of income Access to and decisions on credit 18Source: Malapit et al. (2014)
  19. 19. Bangladesh: diagnosis of empowerment gaps used to inform programming USAID Bangladesh responded to WEAI baseline findings by retrofitting existing program funding $6m new projects to improve women’s empowerment in the 5 domains
  20. 20. Criticisms of the WEAI Problems and solutions
  21. 21. Problems and solutions: “mechanics” Problems  Initial questionnaire too long; respondent fatigue  Some modules were problematic in the field  Autonomy  Time use Solutions  Streamline questionnaire, eliminate redundancy  Cognitive testing to make sure respondents understand concepts or questionnaire uses culturally relevant concepts  Development of vignettes, particularly for autonomy module  Sensitivity testing of alternative time use modules
  22. 22. Tweaking autonomy and time use modules Autonomy  Initial questions hard for respondents to understand, interviewers to administer—too abstract  Use of vignettes; piloted in Bangladesh and Uganda  Both interviewers and respondents preferred these Time use  Interviewers had a hard time implementing this, but solution emerged from one of our Bangladeshi collaborators (Time use tutorial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=jr8ebiKUkbQ)  We experimented with 7-day vs. 24-hour recall. 24 hour-recall worked better  Problem of seasonality: Question now asked whether yesterday was typical, or involved more work
  23. 23. Problems and solutions: concepts Problems  Too little qualitative work, so not enough nuance  No attention to other domains of empowerment that might affect nutrition, reproductive health  What does autonomy really mean, does current autonomy measure get it? Solutions  More qualitative work, especially on barriers to empowerment and “what works” to empower women in project settings  Expand scope of empowerment measures—not just agriculture (and autonomy on control of income?)  Ongoing analysis indicates that domain-specific autonomy measures do tell us something—related to patterns of decisionmaking (sole or joint). This info might be useful to projects.
  24. 24. Problems and solutions: relevance and usability for projects Problems  Too much detail in some modules, too little detail in others  Possibility that indicators may not change during the life of a project  Indicators not relevant to particular projects, depending on project objectives Solutions?  Projects have done their own adaptations, and therefore not comparable  Need to examine indicators of empowerment in a project setting  Need to make modules adaptable for “types” or “clusters” of projects, but comparable within types For donors with large portfolios: need an indicator that can be used to compare empowerment impacts within a project portfolio, yet be granular enough to help projects themselves in real time Not “forest vs. trees” but “forest AND trees”

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