A Practical Approach for Measuring Women Empowerment

Noor Abu Jbara

While some researchers argue that women empowerment is measured through women’s control of their income and decision-making process, others link it with women’s rights for education, political participation, leading a healthy life and gender equality.

In any case, how can we measure women empowerment before and after receiving an empowerment activity? We’ll be assessing this through personal skills and Key Performance Indicators (women empowerment indicators - WEI’s).

A Practical Approach for Measuring Women Empowerment

A skills assessment focuses on assessing the personal skills needed for women to be empowered, such as self-confidence. On the other hand, the WEI’s are divided into personal, social and technical WEI’s that measure the level of women empowerment in terms of these three aspects.

By assessing and measuring women empowerment, organizations will be able to maximize the benefits and ensure that women receive the right services. These measurements can be used as a tool for all individuals or entities that are providing women empowerment activities.

Measuring Women Empowerment

Women empowerment can be assessed by measuring two key things, which are: women’s control for the income of their businesses, in addition to their participation in the decision-making process at their home. These include the below:

1. Women’s freedom, which represents their right for education and their right to move freely.
2. Equality in gender roles and decision making between men and women.
3. Equality in marriage and divorce aspects.
4. Financial independence, where women control their income and how it is shared with the family.
5. Marriage advantages, in other words, women have chosen their husbands, where the age and educational differences between them are small.

A Practical Approach for Measuring Women Empowerment

Additionally, women empowerment is deployed in order to enhance women’s access to education, employment and healthcare. So, it can be measured by the following

1. Having the power of economic decision making, where women participate in family’s economic decisions, especially for the decisions related to the money they own.
2. Having the power of decisions related to family size, where women can participate in decisions related to the number of children they may have.
3. Having the right to move freely, where women can move and visit any places without any restrictions.
4. Husband control, where husbands are controlling women by force or not, and if women are afraid to disagree with their husbands’ opinion or not.

A Practical Approach for Measuring Women Empowerment

Finally, there are many global measurements, which measure women empowerment performance in countries across the world, such as the Gender-related Development Index (GDI), the Gender Inequality Index (GII) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM).

However, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in their “Human Development Report” has published these measures. In these indexes, UNDP gives a number or index for each country, where they divide countries into main four categories, which are; very high human development, high human development, medium human development and low human development countries.

Suggested Approach for Women Empowerment Measurement

One approach is the assessment of women's personal skills. This depends on defining some personal skills that are required in women’s personalities, in order to be empowered and to be economically independent (open their businesses). The main measurement and skills assessment is summarized below:

1. Defining the required skills with the minimum level of each one (basic, competent and advanced).
2. Meet women before receiving empowerment activity and measure their level in each personal skill.
3. Identify the skills that need improvement to reach the required level.
4. Meet women after receiving the empowerment activity and measure their level in the personal skills.
5. Identify and analyze the skills that have been improved and the ones that have not been improved.

A Practical Approach for Measuring Women Empowerment

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) has argued in their women’s entrepreneurship report that a group of factors contribute in women’s entrepreneurial perception and their abilities to open their own business, which are networking, self-confidence (to reduce the fear of failure factor), motivation, entrepreneurial intention and having a clear vision.

Women Empowerment Indicators (WEI’s)

The assessment based on women empowerment indicators depends on defining certain key performance indicators that measure the improvement of women after receiving an empowerment activity.

The indicators are divided into three categories, which are: personal indicators, social indicators and business/ technical indicators. The personal indicators measure how women are empowered in the personal level, in terms of work life balance, decision-making control and entrepreneurial personal skills improvement. Also, the social indicators measure how women are supported by society and family. On the other hand, the business indicators measure how women start and open their businesses and how they become economically independent. However, the main steps that shall be followed, in order to measure women empowerment through the women empowerment indicators can be summarized by the following:

1. Build women empowerment indicators (WEI’s), as mentioned in Table 8.
2. Meet woman, to assess her based on WEI’s.
3. Document the current situation of the woman.
4. Meet woman to assess her after receiving an empowerment activity.
5. Compare woman's empowerment level before and after receiving the empowerment activity.

A Practical Approach for Measuring Women Empowerment

Women empowerment is a critical concept that has deep social, personal and economical effect on women, as it is linked with women’s ability to control their decisions, secure and control their income, have power in their homes, participate in economic development and have the right to learn and improve.

Women empowerment can be developed through creating a supportive eco-system that incubates women and provides an environment that engages them with their selves, families, societies and economies. However, securing a sustainable empowerment that has a tangible and continuous effect on women, requires defining some measurements, which test the impact and ensure that women have received the right efforts that enable them to be empowered and be economically independent.

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