Women's Status Index

The Women's Status survey is a 17-item measure that captures four aspects of women's status in Bangladesh: women's mobility, authority, attitudes, and the leniency of her household towards her. In measuring mobility, items capture travel outside the village and wearing a burka during travel. The leniency index includes a women's permission to adopt family planning and earn money. In capturing authority, items ask about a woman's participation in household decisions. The final index, attitudes, measure women's opinions about their rights in Bangladeshi society.


Geographies Tested: Bangladesh

Populations Included: Female

Age Range: Adolescents, Adults



1. How frequently do you travel outside the village?

Response Options:
Often - 1
Sometimes - .67
Seldom - .33
Never - 0

For those who travel outside
2. When you travel outside do you wear a burka?

Response Options:
No - 1
Sometimes - .5
Yes - 0

3. When you go outside the village, who usually accompanies you?

Response Options:
No one - 1
Children - .25
Female relative - .50
Male relative - .75
Husband - 0


Are you permitted to...

4. adopt family planning?
5. recreate (festival, film)?
6. earn money?

Response Options:
Yes - 1
No - 0

Are you permitted to...
7. take a sick child to a hospital outside the village?

Response Options:
In any situation - 1
In an emergency only - .5
Almost never - 0


Who makes the decision...
8. To purchase medicine for a sick child
9. To see a doctor when the respondent is ill
10. On how long a child should attend school
11. At what age and whom a daughter marries
12. To spend money earned by the respondent
13. To spend money earned by the husband

Response Options:
Usually the wife only - 1
Primarily the wife - .25
Primarily the husband - .50
Other family members - .75
Husband only - 0

How do you feel about women in this society...
14. Deciding to adopt family planning when she feels she has enough sons and daughters, even though her husband opposes

Response Options:
Approve - .5
Disapprove - 0


How do you feel about women in this society...
15. Traveling on their own
16. Deciding to get treatment for herself or sick children
17. Working outside the home for survival

Response Options:
Strongly approve
Strongly disapprove

Scoring Procedures

While each index varies by the number of questions it includes in its construction, the index scales are intended to equal one another intrinsically. For each index, the values for the selected questions are summed and standardized. For all indices, the minimum value is 0 and the maximum is near 3.0; it is exactly 3 in all cases, except authority, where it is 3.25.

Original Citation

Balk, D. (1994). Individual and community aspects of women's status and fertility in rural Bangladesh. Population Studies, 48(1), 21-45.

Psychometric Score

Ease of Use Score

Scoring breakdown

Formative Research

Qualitative Research

Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework

Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








Criterion (gold-standard)



Ease of Use


Scoring Clarity


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