Women’s empowerment is key for agricultural transformation in developing countries and yet women have historically been underrepresented in agricultural statistics. Household-level surveys are typically conducted with “heads of households” who are overwhelming male, thus missing women’s perspectives.
In 2012, researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in partnership with Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and USAID’s Feed the Future program, launched the first comprehensive and standardized method to measure women’s empowerment and inclusion in the agricultural sector – the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). WEAI is an aggregate index based on individual-level data collected from both men and women within the same household, offering an innovative method to measuring women’s empowerment.
WEAI is comprised of two sub-indices: one measures five domains of empowerment for women (production, resources, income, leadership and time), and the other measures gender parity in empowerment within the household.
In response to increased demand, IFPRI researchers developed the abbreviated WEAI (A-WEAI) and the project-level WEAI (pro-WEAI). The A-WEAI is a shortened version of the WEAI adapted for population-based surveys and the pro-WEAI, designed for project-specific contexts, includes optional modules specific to health, nutrition and livestock and qualitative protocols for mixed method studies. Additionally, the pro-WEAI’s novelty lies in its inclusion of intrinsic, instrumental and collective agency—aspects of empowerment that are crucial for the successful execution of projects. The latest addition to this suite of tools, the project-level WEAI for market inclusion (pro-WEAI+MI), will include additional modules on market inclusion.