Evidence-based Measures of Empowerment for Research on Gender Equality



EMERGE: How Funded Measures Assess Impact

As a part of the EMERGE goal to support the development of gender empowerment and equality measures in India, a grant competition was initiated in the Spring of 2017. The call invited submissions from investigators and institutions for two types of grants. The first, was a secondary data analysis grant for up to $5000, for which investigators proposed to test the validity and reliability of a measure addressing an aspect of gender equality and empowerment from data that they had already collected, or from a large-scale survey. The second grant, was an up to $50,000 award to the researcher’s institution to aid in the development and pilot testing of new measures.

In their proposals, applicants were asked to address at least one of the following aspects:

  • Mutable valued resources (tangible and intangible), socially valued goods and services, opportunities, capital (both social and financial), compensation and reward, or well-being known to disadvantage women and girls, relative to men and boys.
  • Unjust treatment, access, opportunities, control/autonomy, and safety for women and girls.
  • Process of women or girls’ empowerment (inclusive of all steps): from consciousness of desire/choice, to aspiration for change, to voicing aspirations, to developing and using agency to create change, to resisting control against change, to achieving change.

Priority in the review process was given to proposals that addressed any of the following key issues and gaps in GE/E measurement:

  • Gender-based violence and safety of women and girls, time use and time poverty, gender role norms and attitudes, women’s labor force participation and asset control, or the process of empowerment as part of participatory action programs such as self-help groups
  • Innovations in measurement beyond survey research methods
  • Pragmatic approaches to measurement that can operate for program evaluation and state/national monitoring of GE/E indicators

Following a 3 tiered review process 6 secondary data analysis projects and 2 field-based pilot testing projects were funded. The funded projects began in the fall of 2017 and are expected to continue through the fall of 2018. Summaries of each project have been provided by study investigators below.



Development of a measure of observer intervention of sexual harassment
Principal Investigators:
Dr. Aarti Shyamsundar 
Institution: Sofia College, Mumbai (in collaboration)
Project Description:
This project aims to develop a measure of Observer Intervention of sexual harassment at the workplace using the single response Situational Judgement (SJ) format. This tool would be designed to identify likelihood of observer intervention in cases of sexual harassment at work, and then to coach people on appropriate observer intervention behaviours.

Development of a women economic empowerment scale
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Anand Venkatesh and Dr. Preeti Priya
Institution: Institute of Rural Management, Anand
Project Description: 
The project aims to develop and validate a scale of women empowerment in subsistence marketplaces with specific reference to empowerment in market domain. The research will take place in the Indian state of Gujarat which has a rich tradition of collective action, co-operation and more specifically, market-led rural livelihood interventions.

Development of a measure of local collective action
Principal Investigator: Dr. Nivedita Narain
Institution: Professional Assistance for Development Action
Project Description: The project aims to identify effective, context-specific, cost-effective ways of measuring local collective action and political participation in India, using the platform of women’s self-help groups (SHGs). This project will also explore innovative and empowering data collection mechanisms.



Development and Testing of the Relative Autonomy Index to measure women’s household autonomy
Principal Investigators:
Dr. Swati Dutta and Dr. Mythri Prasad
Institution: Institute for Human Development, New Delhi
Project Description:
The team of researchers, led by Drs. Dutta and Prasad will develop a measure of women’s household autonomy within urban contexts by measuring the self-perception of women to act autonomously in her household and control over personal-decision making, and the ambient environment that encourages or discourages her autonomy. Using a stratified random sampling experimental design, the measure will be tested among 300 middle-income women, representing three income groups and who have overcome economic barriers to gender empowerment. The pilot testing for this measure will take place in urban neighborhoods in Delhi.

Development and Testing of Measure to Understand Gender Bias in Third-Party Sanctioned Punishment
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Tarun Jain
Institution: Indian School of Business, Hyderabad
Project Description:
This project makes use of a variation of “The Dictator Game” to understand gender bias in third-party sanctioned punishments in two states in India. To explore the influence of cultural norms on such biases, the measure will be pilot tested in 20 villages each, in Haryana and Meghalaya, two Indian states with large communities that follow patrilineal and matrilineal kinship practices respectively.



Development of Gender-Specific Human Development Index
Principal Investigator: Dr. Udaya Shankar Mishra
Institution: Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvanathapuram
Project Description:
This project seeks to construct a gender segregated Human Development Index (HDI) for all major Indian states, to be considered as a measure of development. In developing such a measure, Dr. Mishra will draw on the strength of the existing HDI, a widely-accepted comparative tool for reading development across countries by policymakers and governments and create an HDI that explicitly takes into account inequalities in, and departures from, the ideal of gender equity across the development domains of health, income and education.

Measure of Gender Attitudes using Implicit Assessment Testing
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Tarun Jain
Indian School of Business, Hyderabad
Project Description:
This project focuses on the validation and testing of a measure, developed using Implicit Assessment Testing (IAT), to assess gender attitudes among elementary school students. The measure was developed by the researchers to gauge unconscious gender biases among school-going children in Haryana. The measure was tested among male and female sixth to ninth grade students across 314 schools in Haryana. Through this validation study the measure has potential to be developed for broader use within different communities in India.

Intra-household empowerment, self-care and wellbeing 
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Tannistha Samanta
Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar
Project Description:
 Dr. Samanta will use data from the India Human Development Survey (IHDS II 2011-12), a nationally representative, multi-topic survey of 42,152 households including a special module on eligible women that maps women’s say in household level decisions and mobility and captures questions around health beliefs, work, marriage and fertility preferences. The research will interrogate whether the household becomes a site of inequality in terms of decisions, division of labor and overall well-being for women. Specifically, it will examine whether higher scores in the household level empowerment measure allow women to “bargain” their way out from the burden of domesticity and engage in self-care.

Measuring characteristics of women and communities where women hold jobs outside domestic work
Principal Investigators:
Dr. Hema Swaminathan and Dr. S. Chandrasekhar
: Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
Project Description: 
This project uses data from a module of the 2004-05 and 2011-12 rounds of National Sample Survey data that collected detailed information on the willingness of women to undertake additional work at home along with their domestic duties. Additional questions explored in this study include the nature and type of work that is acceptable for women within their homes, and what assistance is required to take on such work. The project will develop measures that can be used to understand characteristics of women aged 15-59 (the active working age population) who are willing to take up additional work at home, and to better understand what unique constraints women face that may limit their participation in the labor force.

Development of measure to understand time-use differentials between men and women
Principal Investigators: Dr. Hema Swaminathan and Dr. S. Chandrasekhar
Institution: Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
Project Description:
Using a module on time disposition from the National Sample Survey Rounds of 2004-05 and 2011-12, Dr. Swaminathan will focus on understanding differences between men and women on time spent on various household and other activities, with focus on time spent instead of labor market participation in rural India. The project will calculate share of person days in a particular activity by sex and share of person days in a particular industry. These will be correlated with state-level indicators and can be used to assess progress toward SDG 5.4.

Development and Validation of Indian Family Violence and Control Scale
Principal Investigators:
Dr. Ameeta Kalokhe and Dr. Seema Sahay
Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA; and National AIDS Research Institute, Pune
Project Description:
Drs. Kalokhe and Sahay will build on the initial development and validation of the Indian Family Violence and Control Scale (IFVCS) to measure domestic violence experience by a married woman from her spouse or marital family. The data used in this study was collected by the researchers from the initial development sample of 630 married women over the age of 18 in Pune, India, recruited using random, geographically-clustered sampling.  This second phase of validation will examine the factor structure of the subscale scores, and the development and testing of a shortened version of the original scale.