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News Story
18 December 2012

Groundbreaking Index Launched to Empower Women and Fight Hunger

Through a partnership between the US Government’s Feed the Future initiative, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) of Oxford University a new index for measuring women’s empowerment in the agricultural sector in developing countries.

Women play a critical and potentially transformative role in agricultural growth in developing countries, but they face persistent obstacles and economic constraints limiting further inclusion in agriculture. The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) measures the empowerment, agency, and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector in an effort to identify ways to overcome those obstacles and constraints. The Index is a significant innovation in its field and aims to increase understanding of the connections between women’s empowerment, food security, and agricultural growth. It measures the roles and extent of women’s engagement in the agriculture sector in five domains: (1) decisions about agricultural production, (2) access to and decisionmaking power over productive resources, (3) control over use of income, (4) leadership in the community, and (5) time use. It also measures women’s empowerment relative to men within their households.

The WEAI is a composite measurement tool that indicates women’s control over critical parts of their lives in the household, community, and economy. It allows us to identify women who are disempowered and understand how to increase autonomy and decisionmaking in key domains. The WEAI is also a useful tool for tracking progress toward gender equality, which is one of the Millennium Development Goals.

See video of launch of USAID’s new Gender Policy – includes remarks by Raj Shah, Administrator of USAID, on the WEAI

Briefing: Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index
Pressrelease: Groundbreaking Index Launched to Empower Women and Fight Hunger