Women's Agency in India

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.


Geographies Tested: India

Populations Included: Female

Age Range: Adults


Decision making in the home and control over income

Who usually makes the following decisions?

Home 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?

Control over income
8. Decisions about making major household purchases?
9. Who decides how your husband’s earnings will be used?

Response Options:
Respondent only
Jointly with other family members
Respondent not involved

Attitudes and perceptions

Do you agree or disagree with each statement?

Views on gender norms
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 shrinemosquetemplechurch within the village?

Response Options:
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:

Family related issues
18. Protest a man beating his wife?
19. Protest a man divorcing or abandoning his wife?

Outside home-related issues
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?

Response Options:
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

Scoring Procedures

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.

Original Citation

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.

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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