Measuring Key Domains of Reproductive Empowerment: Lessons Learned from a Multicountry Approach

Session Number: 3139
Track: International and Cross Cultural Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Decision making, indicators, measure development, social norm, Women's Empowerment
Session Chair: Jeffrey D Edmeades [Senior Social Demographer - International Center for Research on Women]
Presenter 2: Carolina Mejia [M&E/Gender Technical Advisor - University of North Carolina]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Lydia K Murithi [Sexual and Reproductive Health Specialist - International Center for Reasearch on Women]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Laura Hinson [Social and Behavioral Scientist - International Center for Research on Women]
Presentation 2 Additional Author: Mary Allegra Paul [Research Assistant - MEASURE Evaluation]
Time: Nov 09, 2017 (02:15 PM - 03:00 PM)
Room: Roosevelt 3

Abstract 1 Title: Development of Reproductive Decision-Making Measures: Challenges, Insights, and Learning from a Mixed-Method Study in Nepal
Presentation Abstract 1:

Dyadic power differentials that shape reproductive decisions is of perennial interest to social science researchers, particularly the extent to which women influence these decisions. While there is consensus this is key to empowerment, measurement approaches and empirical evidence linking decision-making to behaviors are inconsistent. We addressed this gap through a mixed-methods study in Nepal. The study began with a qualitative phase that explores the meaning of reproductive empowerment through group discussions with women and men, separately, and investigates decision-making measures—both existing and newly developed—through cognitive interviews. Findings informed the refinement of quantitative measures, which were formally tested using a household survey with 900 participants. We used standard psychometric techniques to assess the validity of the revised measures against more standard questioning approaches and explored their predictive value through regression analyses. The results provide insight into how evaluators can ask better questions on how men and women and influence reproductive health decisions.


Abstract 2 Title: Development, Content, and Construct Validity of Social Norms Scale on Reproductive Empowerment. Lessons from sub-Saharan Africa
Presentation Abstract 2:

Social norms are the informal and formal rules, beliefs, and practices that help to determine collective understanding of acceptable attitudes and behaviors. As such, they either can drive processes of social change or act as barriers to these processes. Critical examination of social norms around gender roles in sexual and contraceptive behaviors can enhance understanding of reproductive empowerment. Such studies would be aided by indicators of social norms that are contextually relevant, simple to collect, and affordable to integrate in population or special surveys. To that end, MEASURE Evaluation used mixed methods to develop and validate a scale that measures social norms related to sexual and reproductive health. This presentation will describe and discuss challenges and lessons learned from the development and validation process in two African countries. Evaluators can use the new scale to assess improvement of women’s agency and track changes over time.

Theme: Learning to Enhance Evaluation
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Studies show that domains of women’s empowerment affect reproductive health outcomes. However, the relationship between fertility and empowerment is inconsistent across empowerment domains and reproductive health outcomes. Measurements of empowerment specific to sexual and reproductive health—“reproductive empowerment” (RE)—are needed to clarify the relationship. Our presentations describe efforts to meet this need by the USAID-funded MEASURE Evaluation and the International Center for Research on Women.

The first describes a new model conceptualizing RE and reports quantitative and qualitative findings from a new scale measuring gender-based power differentials in reproductive decisions. The second describes the development and validation of measures of social norms around RE. These measures can be used in population-level surveys or in surveys evaluating programs addressing sexual and reproductive health and gender. The session will give participants a better understanding of the concept of RE and acquaint them with new scales for measuring RE in various settings.