Women’s Economic Decision-Making
English: average score on Women’s Economic Decision-Making Index
French: score moyen sur l’indice de prise de décisions économiques des femmes
Portuguese: pontuação média no Índice de Tomada de Decisão Económica da Mulher
Czech: průměrné skóre Women Economic Decision-Making Indexu
What is its purpose?
This indicator measures the extent to which women can influence the economic decisions made within their household. This has a crucial impact on their demand for various products and services and is an important precondition for greater gender equality.
How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data
1) Define the most important economic decisions that women in the targeted communities should have their say about (should be able to influence) within their household. This can include, for example, the use of generated income (and savings) or the type of income-generating activities they will be doing (for example, what cash crops will be grown). Focus on defining primarily those decisions that your intervention aims to influence, as there is no point in measuring something that you did not attempt to change. It is very important that the decisions are fully relevant to the local context, so that you do not ask about things that are irrelevant to people’s lives or on the other hand omit important economic decisions. As much as possible, invest at least one working day into consulting the target (female) group members about the main economic decisions that are made within their household (using focus group discussions, key informant interviews, etc.). Be very careful about this – if the most important economic decisions are not properly identified, the indicator might provide misleading or unreliable data.
2) Select 5 to 7 of the most important and frequently made economic decisions.
3) For each decision, formulate a question which asks about who usually makes the decision. Examples of survey questions include:
Q1: Who usually decides how to spend the income that your partner brings into the household?
Q2: Who usually decides how to spend the income that you bring into the household?
Q3: Who usually decides how to spend any savings that your household managed to make?
Q4: Who usually decides about making smaller purchases, such as food and other less expensive needs?
Q5: Who usually decides about making more expensive purchases, such as new animals or household equipment?
Q6: Who decides about what type of income generating activities you will be doing?
Q7: Who usually decides about the crops that will be grown for sale?
(As was emphasized above: these questions are just examples – your questions must be defined based on the context you operate in and the focus of your intervention.)
Answer options: [one option only; do not read the answers]
1) Respondent herself
3) Respondent and husband jointly
4) Another household member
5) Respondent and another household member jointly
6) Someone outside the household
7) The question is not relevant to the household’s situation
8) Other – specify: ……………………………
4) Conduct individual interviews with a representative sample of women aged 15 – 49 years that live with their husband or partner, asking them the questions defined in the step above.
5) Take the following steps to calculate the value of the Index:
- provide 1 point for each activity on which the respondent fully or partially decided (= answers 1, 3, 5)
- calculate the total number of points per each respondent
- count the total number of answered questions (you have to exclude those questions that were not relevant to the household’s situation - for example, the household members did not grow any crops)
- divide the total number of points by the total number of answered questions – for example, 3 points divided by 6 relevant questions = 0.5
- this resulting number is the respondent’s score on the Women’s Economic Decision-Making Index
- to calculate the Index’s average value (for all respondents), add up the total scores of the individual respondents’ Indexes and divide these by the number of respondents
The closer the value of the Index is to 1, the more women are involved in household economic decision-making (and the other way – the closer the value of the Index is to 0, the less women are involved).
Disaggregate the data by age groups, ethnicity, wealth, and other factors depending on the local context and the focus of your intervention.
1) Conduct the survey only with women that live with their husbands/partners.
2) Considering that changes in households’ decision-making practices can be a longer-term process, the indicator is not recommended for interventions lasting less than 2 years.
3) Consider analysing which aspects of women’s economic decision-making recorded the biggest changes (for example, there might be changes in the decisions regarding smaller purchases but not related to larger investments). Compared to the Index score (which is essentially just a number), such analysis will provide you with deeper insights into the changes in women’s influence over economic decision-making.
4) The results can be presented in two different ways:
- “the average score on Women’s Economic Decision-Making Index” (see above).
- “% of households with women actively engaged in economic decision-making” - as ‘households with women actively engaged’, all women with an Index score in the top third of the 0-1 range – i.e. 0.67 and higher can be counted (note: you might need to adjust the threshold depending on the context you operate in and the results of your baseline survey)
5) If your intervention focuses on younger women (e.g. aged 18 – 25 years), adjust the target group accordingly.
6) This indicator was adapted based on Oxfam (2017) Measuring Women’s Empowerment (see below).
Access Additional Guidance
- Oxfam (2017) A ‘How To’ Guide to Measuring Women’s Empowerment (.pdf)