The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s blog Impatient Optimists has published an article on the measurement of women’s empowerment, including using the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) developed by OPHI to analyse new data from India.
The Gates Foundation and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Markets and Institutions is at present funding an ICRISAT Village Dynamics Studies in South Asia (VDSA) to collect new data in eight villages of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in India. The data will help to examine change over time on key gender-related health, nutrition and institutional metrics. The aim of the study is to try to ultimately measure women’s empowerment.
In a meeting in October to discuss how the WEAI can be used to study the link between empowerment and nutrition in ICRISAT’s new data set, OPHI Director Sabina Alkire explained that ‘the index had specifically been developed for the context of agriculture and could easily be adapted to capture overall empowerment.’
The blog post also notes that Alkire felt a nutritional empowerment index could include questions focusing on women’s knowledge and practices in key areas such as breastfeeding, giving the antibody-rich first milk, colostrum, and weaning (giving sufficient soft food).
The WEAI was developed by OPHI with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It aims to indicate women’s control over critical parts of their lives in the household, community and economy. A woman is empowered if ‘adequacy’ is achieved in 80% or more of the indicators.