Women’s Economic Decision-Making
INDICATOR PHRASING: % of households with women actively engaged in household economic decisions
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 economic situation and is an important pre-condition for greater gender equality.
How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data
Determine the indicator's value using the following methodology:
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 primarily on defining those decisions that:
- the targeted women want to be able to influence (it is possible that they might want some decisions to be made by their partners / husbands while making other decisions themselves – your project must take these preferences into account)
- your intervention can and 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 locally important economic decisions. As much as possible, invest at least two working days 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 6 to 9 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 the household’s savings?
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 out the answer options]
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 who live with their husband or partner, asking them the questions defined in the step above.
5) Next, for each respondent, take the following steps:
- 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 where the household was not involved in the activity (for example, when the household members did not grow any crops)
- divide the total number of points by the total number of answered questions – for example, 3 divided by 6 = 0.5
- a woman can be considered to be “actively involved” in household economic decision-making if her “score” is equal to or higher than 0.6666 (the closer the score is to 1, the more the respondent is involved in household economic decision-making – and vice versa)
6) To calculate the indicator’s value:
- count the number of women with a score equal to or higher than 0.6666
- divide this number by the total number of interviewed women
- multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage
Disaggregate the data by age groups, ethnicity, 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 household 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 overall indicator value (which is essentially just a number), such an analysis will provide you with deeper insights into the changes in women’s influence over economic decision-making.
4) If your intervention focuses on younger women (e.g. aged 18 - 25 years), adjust the respondents accordingly.
5) This indicator was adapted based on Oxfam (2017) Measuring Women’s Empowerment (see below).