Women's Agency in India is a 23-item measure that captures the ability of women to identify their goals and act upon them. The items from this measure were derived from the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), Phase 7, the DHS’s Women’s Status Module, and the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Phase 3. The measure includes domains such as Household Decision-Making, Freedom of Movement, Participation in the Community, Attitudes and Perceptions, Views about Intimate Partner Violence, and Fear of or Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence.
Decision making in the home and control over income
Who usually makes the following decisions?
1. Decisions about health care for yourself?
2. Decisions about how many children to have and when?
3. Decisions about whether to use contraception?
4. Decisions about the education of your children, including where they go to school and until which grade?
5. Decisions about visits to your family or friends?
6. Decisions about whether you can work?
7. Decisions about where you can work?
8. Decisions about making major household purchases?
9. Who decides how your husband’s earnings will be used?
Jointly with other family members
Respondent not involved
Attitudes and perceptions
Do you agree or disagree with each statement?
10. Husband should help with chores if wife is working
11. A married woman should be able to work outside the home if she wants to
12. A wife has a right to express her opinion even if she disagrees with what her husband is saying
Freedom of movement
Are you usually permitted to go to the following places on your own, only if someone accompanies you, or not at all?
13. To the market to buy things?
14. To a health center or doctor within the village?
15. To the community center or other meeting place within the village?
16. To home of friends in the village?
17. To a shrine/mosque/temple/church within the village?
Permitted to go alone
Permitted to go if accompanied
Not permitted to go at all
Participation in the community
Do you feel comfortable speaking up in public to:
18. Protest a man beating his wife?
19. Protest a man divorcing or abandoning his wife?
20. Help decide on infrastructure (like small wells, road, water supplies) to be built in your community?
21. Ensure proper payment of wages for public work or other similar programs
22. Protest the behavior of authorities or elected officials
23. Do you feel comfortable attending rural meetings unaccompanied?
No, not at all comfortable
Yes, but with a great deal of difficulty
Yes, but with a little difficulty
Yes, fairly comfortable
Yes, very comfortable
The authors did not establish a singular method for combining item responses to create a total score. Researchers are encouraged to identify the method to score the items for sub-scale and total measure scores that best suits their population and context.
Richardson, R., Schmitz, N., Harper, S., & Nandi, A. (2019). Development of a tool to measure women’s agency in India. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 20(1), 26-53. https://doi.org/10.1080/19452829.2018.1545751
Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework
Field Expert Input
Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing