Measuring Women's Agency

68 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017

See all articles by Aletheia Amalia Donald

Aletheia Amalia Donald

World Bank

Gayatri B. Koolwal

World Bank

Jeannie Annan

International Rescue Committee

Kathryn Falb

International Rescue Committee

Markus P. Goldstein

World Bank

Date Written: July 18, 2017

Abstract

Improving women's agency, namely their ability to define goals and act on them, is crucial for advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women. Yet, existing frameworks for women's agency measurement -- both disorganized and partial -- provide a fragmented understanding of the constraints women face in exercising their agency, restricting the design of quality interventions and evaluation of their impact. This paper proposes a multidisciplinary framework containing the three critical dimensions of agency: goal-setting, perceived control and ability ("sense of agency"), and acting on goals. For each dimension, the paper (i) reviews existing measurement approaches and what is known about their relative quality; (ii) presents new empirical evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa: validating vignettes as a measurement tool for goal-setting, examining gender and regional discrepancies in response to sense-of-agency measures, and investigating what information spousal disagreement over decision-making roles can provide about the intra-household process of acting on goals; and (iii) highlights priorities for future research to improve the measurement of women's agency.

Keywords: Poverty Lines, Poverty Diagnostics, Poverty Monitoring & Analysis, Poverty Impact Evaluation, Small Area Estimation Poverty Mapping, Poverty Assessment

Suggested Citation

Donald, Aletheia Amalia and Koolwal, Gayatri B. and Annan, Jeannie and Falb, Kathryn and Goldstein, Markus P., Measuring Women's Agency (July 18, 2017). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8148. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3006222

Aletheia Amalia Donald (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Gayatri B. Koolwal

World Bank ( email )

United States

Jeannie Annan

International Rescue Committee ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Kathryn Falb

International Rescue Committee ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Markus P. Goldstein

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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