The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index
Women play a critical role in agriculture in developing countries, but they face major constraints that prevent them from contributing more to agricultural growth and poverty reduction. In order to remove the obstacles related to income, time, and lack of control over resources from women’s paths, it’s important to identify which barriers are most important, in order to design the most effective interventions in a particular context. A significant new breakthrough in the measurement of women’s agricultural empowerment was recently developed to do just that.
The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) is a composite measurement tool that indicates women’s control over critical parts of their lives in the household, community, and economy. Specifically, it focuses on five areas: (1) decisions about farming and agricultural production, (2) power over resources like land and livestock, (3) control over spending and income, (4) leadership in the community, and (5) time use. The Index also takes into consideration whether women are as empowered as the men in their household. Unlike other indices that are based on aggregate data, or that focus on women alone, the WEAI is a survey-based index based on interviews of both women and men in the same household.
The WEAI was developed collaboratively by Feed the Future (the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) of Oxford University. The WEAI was piloted in Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Uganda. Going forward, the intent is to use the Index to track changes in women’s empowerment levels that occur as direct or indirect results of food security interventions. More broadly, it can help identify progress toward gender equality, which is one the Millennium Development Goals.
The Index was launched in New York, London and New Delhi, and we are delighted to launch it in Washington, D.C. Copies of a brochure describing the Index will be available at the seminar.
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