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Database of Gender and Women's Empowerment Measures

Welcome to the Database of Gender and Women’s Empowerment Measures. You can use this tool to find different measures of gender equity and levels of empowerment. The measures in this database have been used in research on a wide range women’s health topics and have been used in domestic and global situations.

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Created by the Center of Expertise in Women's Health, Gender, and Empowerment (WHGE CoE) at the University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI), this collection of measures explores constructs of gender equity and empowerment and their associations with women’s health and well-being. ANSIRH faculty are active members of UCGHI’s Center of Expertise on Women’s Health and Empowerment.

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Name of Measure: Gender Development Index (GDI) New Gender Development Index (nGDI)-2014

Author and Organization: UNDP, HDR



  • composite index

  • development

  • education

  • gender

  • income

  • life expectancy

  • literacy

  • UNDP

Basic Description: The Gender Development Index (GDI) is a composite index, reported at the country or regional level, that adjusts the Human Development Index (HDI) for gender inequalities in three domains: life expectancy, education, and income. 

Measure Domains:

  • long and healthy life: life expectancy at birth

  • knowledge: adult literacy rate

  • knowledge: combined gross enrollment ratio in education

  • standard of living: estimated earned income ($PPP)


Additional Studies:

Human Development Reports

Charmes & Wieringa (2003)

Dijkstra (2006)

Name of Measure: Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM)

Author and Organization: UNDP, HDR

Year: 1995


  • composite index

  • gender inequality

  • income

  • politics

  • power

  • UNDP

Basic Description: The Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) is a composite index reported at the country or regional level, to measure women's relative economic and political participation.

Measure Domains:

  • Economic participation and decision-making power: female legislators, senior officials and managers; female professional and technical workers

  • "Political Participation: women’s shares of

  • parliamentary seats"

  • "Power over economic resources: Ratio of female to male estimated earned income


Additional Studies: Varkey et al. (2010)

Name of Measure: Gender Inequality Index (GII)

Author and Organization: UNDP, HDR

Year: 2010


  • adolescent birth rates

  • aggregate

  • composite index

  • economic status

  • education

  • labor market

  • maternal mortality

  • political representation

  • sexual health

  • reproductive health

  • maternal health

Basic Description: The Gender Inequality Index (GII) is a composite measure reflecting inequality in achievements between women and men in three dimensions. 

Measure Domains:

  • Reproductive health: adolescent birth rates; maternal mortality rates

  • Empowerment: female and male shares of parliamentary seats; female and male shares of population with at least secondary education.

  • Labor market: female and male labor force participation rates


Additional Studies: Ferrant (2010)

Name of Measure: Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI)

Author and Organization: WEF

Year: 2006


  • disparities

  • economic(s)

  • education

  • gap

  • income

  • labor

  • legislators

  • life expectancy

  • literacy

  • politics

  • sex ratio

  • WEF

Basic Description: The Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) is a framework for capturing the magnitude of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress over time. The Global Gender Gap Index examines the gap between men and women across four categories (subindexes).

Measure Domains:

  • economic participation and opportunity: female labor force

  • economic participation and opportunity: wage equality

  • economic participation and opportunity: female earned income

  • economic participation and opportunity: female legislators

  • economic participation and opportunity: female professional workers

  • educational attainment: female literacy rate

  • educational attainment: female net primary enrollment

  • educational attainment: female net secondary enrollment

  • educational attainment: female gross tertiary enrollment

  • health and survival: sex ratio at birth

  • health and survival: female healthy life expectancy

  • political empowerment: females with seats in parliament

  • political empowerment: females at ministerial level

  • political empowerment: number of years with a female head of state


Additional Studies: NA

Name of Measure: Context of Violence Against Women

Author and Organization: James C. Bond, Sarah C.M. Roberts, Thomas K. Greenfield, Rachael Korcha, Yu Ye, Madhabika B. Nayak

Alcohol Research Group

University of CA, Berkeley

University of CA, San Francisco

Year: 2010


  • assault

  • attitudes

  • domestic violence

  • homicide

  • intimate partner violence

  • legislation

  • safety

  • sexual assault

  • UN

  • violence

Basic Description: The Context of Violence Against Women index is one of two newly created indices used to measure composite gender equality in the current study. The index measures the context of violence against women across countries using actual rates of violence and country response to violence.

Measure Domains:

  • percent ever sexually assaulted (attempted or completed)

  • percent experiencing physical violence by a partner in the past year

  • percent of population feeling unsafe on the street after dark

  • homicide rates

  • attitudes towards wife beating

  • quality of violence against women legislation

  • number of domains of activity to address violence against women a country engages in as reported to the UN Secretary General


Additional Studies: NA


Name of Measure: Reproductive Autonomy Index

Author and Organization: James C. Bond, Sarah C.M. Roberts, Thomas K. Greenfield, Rachael Korcha, Yu Ye, Madhabika B. Nayak

Alcohol Research Group

University of CA, Berkeley

University of CA, San Francisco

Year: 2010


  • abortion

  • alcohol

  • autonomy

  • contraception

  • (in)equality

  • (in)fertility

  • gender

  • marriage

  • maternity leave

  • policy

  • reproductive rights

Basic Description: The Reproductive Autonomy index is one of two newly created indices used to measure composite gender equality in the current study. The index measures reproductive autonomy at the country level by combining both policy-level reproductive rights and actual reproductive control by women.

Measure Domains:

  • restrictiveness of abortion laws

  • contraceptive prevalence

  • total fertility per woman

  • mean age at marriage for women

  • length of maternity leave


Additional Studies: NA

Name of Measure: Gender Equity in Health Policy

Author and Organization: Donna E. Stewart, Linda M. Dorado, Natalia Diaz-Granados, Marta Rondon, Javier Saavedra, Jose Posada-Villa, Yoland Torres

Year: 2009


  • equity

  • evaluation

  • gender-based violence (gbv)

  • gender roles

  • health policy

  • maternity leave

  • paternity leave

  • reproductive health

Basic Description: Uses indicators, that are organized in three tiers, 1) health status, 2) determinants of health, and 3) health systems, to measures the existence of gender-sensitive health policies in a low- (Peru), middle- (Colombia), and high- (Canada) income country in the Americas.

Measure Domains:

  • maternity/paternity leave

  • reproductive health

  • gender roles & gender-based violence


Additional Studies: NA

Name of Measure: Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)

Author and Organization: OECD

Year: 2009


  • civil liberties

  • composite index

  • discrimination

  • law/legal

  • land

  • reproductive health

  • social institutions

  • social norms

  • violence

Basic Description: The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) is a cross-country, composite measure of discrimination against women in social institutions to focus on root causes behind inequities.

Measure Domains:

  • discriminatory family code: legal age of marriage

  • discriminatory family code: early marriage

  • discriminatory family code: parental authority

  • discriminatory family code: inheritance

  • restricted physical integrity: violence against women

  • restricted physical integrity: female genital mutilation

  • restricted physical integrity: reproductive autonomy

  • son bias: missing women

  • son bias: fertility preferences

  • restricted resources and assets: secure access to land

  • restricted resources and assets: secure access to non-land assets

  • restricted resources and assets: access to financial services

  • restricted civil liberties: access to public space

  • restricted civil liberties: political voice


Additional Studies: Branisa et al (2014)

Name of Measure: Gender Equity Index (GEI)

Author and Organization: Social Watch

Year: 2007


  • composite index

  • economic participation

  • education

  • gender gap

  • political representation

Basic Description: The Gender Equity Index (GEI) is based on information available that can be compared internationally, to classify countries and rank them in accordance with a selection of gender inequity indicators in three dimensions: education, economic participation and empowerment.

Measure Domains:

  • education: primary school enrollment

  • education: secondary school enrollment

  • education: tertiary school enrollment

  • education: adult literacy rate

  • economic participation: labor force gap

  • economic participation: non-vulnerable employment

  • economic participation: estimated income gap

  • women empowerment: seats in parliament

  • women empowerment: legislators, senior officials, and managers

  • women empowerment: professional and technical workers

  • women empowerment: women in ministerial positions



Name of Measure: African Gender and Development Index (AGDI)

Author and Organization: United Nations ECA

Year: 2004


  • agency

  • africa

  • economic(s)

  • gender relations

  • government

  • political

  • power

  • rights


Basic Description: The African Gender and Devlopment Index (AGDI) is a composite, specifically African index of gender equality that is is composed of two parts--the Gender Status Index (GSI) and the African Women’s Progress Scoreboard (AWPS)--with an emphasis on the major African charters and documents that have a bearing on gender relations and women’s empowerment.

Measure Domains:

  • GSI: social power (capabilities); education and health

  • GSI: economic power (opportunities): income, time use, resources

  • GSI: political power (agency): representation

  • AWPS: women’s rights

  • AWPS: social power (capabilities)

  • AWPS: economic power (opportunities)

  • AWPS: political power (agency)


Name of Measure: Environment-Gender Index (EGI)

Author and Organization: IUCN

Global Gender Office

Year: 2013


Basic Description: The Environment-Gender Index (EGI) is a tool developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Gender Office to monitor progress toward gender equality and women's empowerment in the context of global environmental agreements.

Measure Domains:

  • gender based rights and participation

  • ecosystem

  • gender based education and assets

  • governance

  • country reported activities

  • livelihood


Additional Studies:

Name of Measure: EU Gender Equality Index (EU-GEI)

Author and Organization: EIGE

Year: 2013, revised 2019


  • economic(s)

  • Europe

  • health

  • income

  • knowledge

  • labor

  • money

  • power

  • policy-making

  • time

  • violence

  • work-life balance

Basic Description: The EU Gender Equality Index (EU-GEI) is a tool to measure the progress of gender equality as a multi-dimensional concept in the European Union.

Measure Domains:

  • work: participation

  • work: segregation

  • work: quality of work

  • money: financial resources

  • money: economic situation

  • knowledge: educational attainment

  • knowledge: segregation

  • knowledge: lifelong learning

  • time: economic activities

  • time: care activities

  • time: social activities

  • power: political power

  • power: social power

  • power: economic power

  • health: status

  • health: behavior

  • health: access

  • intersecting inequalities: social grounds

  • violence: direct violence

  • violence: indirect violence


Additional Studies: NA

Name of Measure: Survey-based Women’s emPowERment Index (SWPER)

Author and Organization: Fernanda Eweling, John W Lynch, Cesar G Victora, Anouka van Eerdewijk, Marcelo Tyszler, and Aluisio J D Barros

Year: 2017


  • Africa

  • child nutrition

  • contraception

  • decision-making

  • cross-country

  • cross-cultural

  • DHS

  • Gender Development Index

  • institutional delivery

  • intimate partner violence

  • maternal health

  • multilevel

  • sexual & reproductive health

  • social independence

  • survey

  • Sustainable Development Goals

  • violence

  • women's empowerment

Basic Description: The Survey-based Women’s emPowERment Index (SWPER) is an index based on nationally representative and publically available Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from African countries to enable within-country and between-country comparisons, as well as time trend analyses.

Measure Domains:

  • Attitude to Violence

  • Social Independence

  • Decision Making


Name of Survey, Year, Country: 1994 Zimbabwe DHS, 2000, Zimbabwe

Author and Organization: Michelle J. Hindin, University of North Carolina

Health Topic: Family Planning, Fertility, Sexual & Reproductive Health

Domain/Modules: Household decision-making power

Citation: Hindin, M.J. (2000). Women's autonomy, women's status and fertility-related behavior in Zimbabwe. Population Research and Policy Review 19: 255-282.




Name of Survey, Year, Country: 1995 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey
Family Health International's Women's Studies Project (WSP) Egypt Household Survey, 2001, Egypt

Author and Organization:

Cynthia Waszak Family Health International 
Lawrence J. Severy University of Florida
Laila Kafafi Tanta University
Isis Badawi American University of Cairo

Health Topic: Family Planning, Fertility, Psychological Stress, Sexual & Reproductive Health

Domain/Modules: Independent Variables: beliefs about gender norms 

Citation: Waszak, C., Severy, L.J., Kafafi, L., Badawi, I. (2001). Fertility Behavior and Psychological Stress: The Mediating Influence of Gender Norm Beliefs Among Egyptian Women. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 25: 197-208.



Name of Survey, Year, Country: Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS), 2005, Phillipines

Author and Organization: Ushma D. Upadhyay, Michelle J. Hindin

Health Topic: Family Planning, Fertility, Maternal Health, Sexual & Reproductive Health

Domain/Modules: Women's status, Decision-making autonomy

Citation: Upadhyay, U.D., Hindin, M.J. (2005). Do higher status and more autonomous women have longer birth intervals? Results from Cebu, Philippines. Social Sci. Med. 60(11):2641-55.



Name of Survey, Year, Country: National Maternal Infant Health Survey (NMIHS), 2005, United States

Author and Organization: Ying-Yeh Chen, S.V. Subramanian, Doloros Acevedo-Garcia, Ichiro Kawachi

Health Topic: Depression, Mental Health

Domain/Modules: State-level women's status was assessed by four composite indices measuring 1) women's political participation; 2) economic autonomy; 3) employment & earnings; 4) reproductive rights.

Citation: Chen, Y., Subramanian, S.V., Acevedo-Garcias, D., Kawachi, I. (2005). Women's status and depressive symptoms: A multilevel analysis. Social Science & Medicine. 60:49-60.



Name of Survey, Year, Country: Encuesta Nacional sobre la Dinámica de las Relaciones en los Hogares 2003 (National Survey of Household Relationships 2003), 2009, Mexico

Author and Organization: Ietza Bojorquez, Nelly Salgado de Snyder, Irene Casique

Health Topic: Depression, Mental Health, Migration

Domain/Modules: Depression, Mental Health, Migration

Citation: Bojorquez, I., Salgado de Snyder, N., Casique, I. (2009). International Migration of Partner, Autonomy and Depressive Symptoms Among Women From a Mexican Rural Area. International Journal of Social Psychiatry 55(4):306-21. doi: 10.1177/0020764008095117




Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2006 Nepal Health and Demographic Survey (NHDS), 2010, Nepal

Author and Organization: Dev R Acharya, Jacqueline S Bell, Padam Simkhada, Edwin R. van, Teijlingen, Pramod R Regmi

Health Topic: Healthcare decision-making, Number of living children

Domain/Modules: Four types of household decision-making: 1) own healthcare, 2) making major household purchases, 3) making purchase for daily household needs, and 4) visits to her family or relatives. 

Citation: Acharya, D.R., Bell, J.S., Simkhada, P., Teijlingen, E.R., Regmi, P.R. (2010). Women's autonomy in household decision-making: a demographic study in Nepal. Reproductive Health. 7:15.



Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2008 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 2011, Nigeria

Author and Organization: Diddy Antai

Health Topic: Intimate Partner Violence

Domain/Modules: Intimate Partner Violence

Citation: Antai, D. (2011). Controlling behavior, power relations within intimate relationships and intimate partner physical and sexual violence against women in Nigeria. BMC Public Health. 11:511 



Name of Survey, Year, Country: Tajikistan Living Standards Survey 2007 (TLSS), 2011, Tajikistan

Author and Organization: Kamiya


Health Topic: Sexual & Reproductive Health


Citation: article under "other surveys"



Name of Survey, Year, Country:

Author and Organization: Halley P. Crissman, Richard M. Adanu, Siobán D. Harlow

Health Topic: Contraceptive Use, Sexual & Reproductive Health

Domain/Modules: DHS Women's Questionnaire Crude composite score created to capture participants’ perceptions of their right to self-determination and equity in sexual relations, and their ability to express themselves in sexual decision making. 

Citation: Crissman, H.P., Adanu, R. M., Harlow, S.D. (2012). Women's Sexual Empowerment and Contraceptive Use in Ghana. Studies in Family Planning. 43(3): 201-212



Name of Survey, Year, Country: Scales adapted from Standard DHS questionnaire, 2013, Tanzania

Author and Organization: Geeta Nanda, Sidney Ruth Schuler, Rachel Lenzi

Health Topic: Contraceptive use, Sexual & Reproductive Health

Domain/Modules: Household Decision-making Scale. Attitutdes Toward Wife Refusing Scale, Attitudes Toward Wife Beating Scale, Also include Gender Equity Men (GEM) Scale

Citation: Nanda, G., Schuler, S.R., Lenzi, R. (2013). The Influence of Gender Attitudes on Contraceptive Use in Tanzania: New Evidence Using Husbands' and Wives' Survey Data. Journal of Biosocial Science. 45(3):331-334.




Name of Survey, Year, Country: Measurement, Learning and Evaluation Project for the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (MLE/NURHI), 2014, Nigeria

Author and Organization: Meghan Corroon, Ilene S. Speizer, Jean-Christophe Fotso, Akinsewa Akiode, Abdulmumin Saad, Lisa Calhoun, Laili Irani

Health Topic: Maternal Health, Sexual & Reproductive Health

Domain/Modules: Attitudes toward domestic violence, Partner prohibition, Equitable decision-making, Economic freedom

Citation: Corroon, M., Speizer, I.S., Fotso, J., Akiode, A., Saad, A., Calhoun, L., Irani, L. (2014). The Role of Gender Empowerment on Reproductive Health Outcomes in Urban Nigeria. Maternal Child Health Journal. 18(1): 307-315.



Name of Survey, Year, Country: Ghana 2008 Demographic and Health Survey, 2014, Ghana

Author and Organization: Rominski, S. D., Gupta, M., Aborigo, R., Adongo, P., Engman, C., Hodgson, A., Moyer, C.

Health Topic: Abortion

Domain/Modules: Women's Questionnaire, Crude composite score created to measure women's autonomy.

Citation: NA




Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2010-11 Senegal and 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Surveys, 2015, Senegal, Tanzania

Author and Organization: Kyoko Shimamoto, Jessica D.Gipson

Health Topic: Maternal Health

Domain/Modules: Household decision-making

Citation: Shimamoto, K. Gipson, J. D. The relationship of women's status and empowerment with skilled birth attendant use in Senegal and Tanzania. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 15(154).



Name of Survey, Year, Country: Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH), 2016, Malawi

Author and Organization: Theresa M. Fedor, Hans-Peter Kohler, James M. McMahon

Health Topic: HIV/AIDS

Domain/Modules: Beliefs regarding women's right to protect against HIV risk, Attitudes towards gender norms within sexual relationships

Citation: Fedor, T.M., Kohler, H., McMahon, J.M. (2016) Changing attitudes and beliefs towards a woman’s right to protect against HIV risk in Malawi, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 18:4, 435-452, DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2015.1090016




Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), 2016, Uganda

Author and Organization: Olivia Nankinga, Cyprian Misinde, Betty Kwagala

Health Topic: Intimate Partner Violence, STIs, Sexual & Reproductive Health

Domain/Modules: Domestic violence module

Citation: Nankinga, O., Misinde, C., & Kwagala, B. (2016). Gender relations, sexual behaviour, and risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections among women in union in Uganda. BMC Public Health,16(1). doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3103-0



Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2011 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS), 2017 Ethiopia

Author and Organization: Eshetu Gurmu, Senait Endale

Health Topic: Intimate Partner Violence

Domain/Modules: Refusal of wife beating measured as a composite index 

Citation: Gurmu, E., & Endale, S. (2017). Wife beating refusal among women of reproductive age in urban and rural Ethiopia. BMC International Health and Human Rights, 17(1). doi:10.1186/s12914-017-0115-5



Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2005 and 2011 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Surveys, 2017, Ethiopia

Author and Organization: Fentanesh Nibret Tiruneh, Kun-Yang Chuang and Ying-Chih Chuang*

Health Topic: Maternal Health

Domain/Modules: Women’s decision-making power, Permissive gender norms associated with wife beating

Citation: Tiruneh, F. N., Chuang, K., & Chuang, Y. (2017). Women’s autonomy and maternal healthcare service utilization in Ethiopia. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1). doi:10.1186/s12913-017-2670-9




Name of Survey, Year, Country: Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS), 2012–13., Pakistan, 2017

Author and Organization: Rubeena Zakar, Muhammad Zakria Zakar, Nauman Aqil, Ashraf Chaudhry & Muazzam Nasrullah

Health Topic: Maternal Health

Domain/Modules: Woman’s Questionnaire

Citation: Zakar, R., Zakar, M. Z., Aqil, N., Chaudhry, A., & Nasrullah, M. (2016). Determinants of maternal health care services utilization in Pakistan: Evidence from Pakistan demographic and health survey, 2012–13. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 37(3), 330-337. doi:10.1080/01443615.2016.1250728

Link: Zakar, R., Zakar, M. Z., Aqil, N., Chaudhry, A., & Nasrullah, M. (2016). Determinants of maternal health care services utilization in Pakistan: Evidence from Pakistan demographic and health survey, 2012–13. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 37(3), 330-337. doi:10.1080/01443615.2016.1250728


Name of Survey, Year, Country: India Demographic and Health Survey 2005-06, 2018 India

Author and Organization: Anita Raj, Jay G. Silverman, Jeni Klugman, Niranjan Saggurti, Balaiah Donta, Holly B. Shakya

Health Topic: Intimate Partner Violence

Domain/Modules: Physical IPV, Women's economic autonomy

Citation: Raj, A., Silverman, J. G., Klugman, J., Saggurti, N., Donta, B., & Shakya, H. B. (2018). Longitudinal analysis of the impact of economic empowerment on risk for intimate partner violence among married women in rural Maharashtra, India. Soc Sci Med, 196, 197-203. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.042




Name of Survey, Year, Country: Guinea (2005), Mali (2006), Namibia (2006–2007), Zambia (2007)., 2013, Guinea, Mali, Namibia, Zambia

Author and Organization: Ushma Upadhyay, Deborah Karasek

Health Topic: Ideal Family Size

Domain/Modules: Ideal Family Size

Citation: Upadhyay UD, Karasek D. Women's empowerment and ideal family size: an examination of DHS empowerment measures in Sub-Saharan Africa. Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2012;38(2):78-89. doi:10.1363/3807812



Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS), 2018, Kenya

Author and Organization: Joseph Kangmennaanga, Elizabeth O. Onyangoa, Isaac Luginaah, Susan J. Elliott

Health Topic: Cervical Cancer

Domain/Modules: Woman's Questionnaire

Citation: Kangmennaang, J., Onyango, E.O., Luginaah, I., Elliott, S.J. (2018). The next Sub Saharan African epidemic? A case study of the determinants of cervical cancer knowledge and screening in Kenya. Social Science & Medicine. 197:203-212. 



DHS Resources

DHS- Survey overview

DHS- Women's Status & Empowerment

DHS- Module Questionnaires

DHS- Gender indicators

Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2006

Author and Organization: Rina Agarwala, Scott M.Lynch Princeton University

Topic/Construct: Autonomy

Description of Review or Paper: Review of theory and research relating to the conceptualization and measurement of women's autonomy.

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures:

Reviews direct and indirect/proxy measures of autonomy
Analyzes data from Survey on the Status of Women and Fertility (SWAF) from India and Pakistan

Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2007

Author and Organization: Solava Ibrahim, Sabina Alkire OPHI

Topic/Construct: Agency

Description of Review or Paper: Reviews multiple concepts and definitions of empowerment in current use and proposes a list of internationally-comparable indicators of individual agency and empowerment and studies utilizing them. 

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures:

Indicator 1- 'Power Over/Contol': Control over personal decisions
Indicator 2A- 'Power To/Choice': Household Decision-making
Indicator 2B- 'Power To/Choice': Domain-specific Autonomy
Indicator 3- 'Power From Within/Change': Changing Aspects in one's Life
Indicator 4- 'Power With/Community': Changing Aspects in Communal Life


Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2008

Author and Organization: Sabina Alkire OPHI 

Topic/Construct: Agency

Description of Review or Paper: Conceptual review of agency focusing on Amartya Sen's conceptualization and survey-based measures of individual agency. 

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Categorizes and analyzes existing agency measures by proxy measures, global and multidimensional measures, and more direct measures of less-represented facets of agency: autonomy, effective power and commitments to goals beyond well-being. 


Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2003

Author and Organization: Jacques Charmes, Saskia Wieringa

Topic/Construct: Gender, Global Instruments, Power

Description of Review or Paper: Discusses the theoretical constructs of gender and power and reviews two widely used global indices to inform the construction of a new African Gender and Development Index (AGDI). 

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Introduces the Women's Empowerment Matrix (WEM) as a tool to link socio-cultural, religious, political, legal and economic spheres in the proocess of women's empowerment. 
African gender and development index (AGDI)
Gender-related development index (GDI)
Gender empowerment measure (GEM)
Women's empowerment matrix (WEM)



Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2007

Author and Organization: Esmeralda R. Garcia, Ilona S. Yim 

Topic/Construct: Maternal and Infant Health, Women's Empowerment

Description of Review or Paper: Systematic review of existing literature on concepts of women's empowerment in the perinatal period. Investigates the effects of empowerment interventions on reductions in perinatal depressive symptoms, preterm birth, and low birthweight.

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Categorizes results using the measure of empowerment or intervention used, conceptualization of empowerment, type of study, and health topic. 


Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2002

Author and Organization:
Anju Malhotra
International Center for Research on Women
Sidney Ruth Schuler
JSI Research and Training Institute
Carol Boender
JSI Research and Training Institute

Topic/Construct: International Development, Women's Empowerment 

Description of Review or Paper: Review of existing theoretical, methodological, and empirical literature on women's empowerment from the fields of economics, sociology, anthropology, and demography. Begins with operational definitions of empowerment and issues measuring the construct and concludes with recommendations for defining, conceptualizing, and measuring empowerment.

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Includes qualitative and quantitative measures: household level studies, aggregate level studies, and intermediate level studies. 



Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2017

Author and Organization: Mahua Mandal, Arundati Muralidharan, Sara Pappa

Topic/Construct: Family Planning, Maternal Health, Women's Empowerment

Description of Review or Paper: Systematic review of evaluations of gender-inegrated family planning and maternal health interventions in low- and middle-income countries. Provides a summary of the women's empowerment and related gender measures by level of operation and dimension of empowerment. 

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Concludes that few validated measures are utilized in evaluations of maternal health interventions in comparison to the body of published studies of HIV and gender-based violence which often use the GEM ans SRPS scales. 


Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2017

Author and Organization: Ndola Prata, Paula Tavrow, Ushma Upadhyay

Topic/Construct: Maternal Health, Women's Empowerment

Description of Review or Paper: Review of literature related to women's empowerment, pregnancy and childbirth. Twelve articles were selected from a variety of disciplines and included a construct that is broadly conceptualized as women's empowerment. The articles are grouped into three main subject areas: 1) fertility, family planning, and abortion; 2) antenatal care, delivery, and the perinatal period; and 3) maternal health and mortality. 

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Gender Equitable Men (GEM) 
Pregnancy-Related Empowerment Scale


Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2016

Author and Organization: Pierre Pratley

Topic/Construct: Agency, Autonomy, Maternal and Child Health, Women's Empowerment, Women's Status

Description of Review or Paper: Systematic review of evidence from developing countries on the associations between quantitative indicators of women's empowerment and measures of maternal and child health status and healthcare utilization. 

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Direct indicators of women's empowerment
Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)



Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2009

Author and Organization: Emma Samman, Maria Emma Santos, OPHI

Topic/Construct: Agency, Empowerment, Opportunity

Description of Review or Paper: Conceptual review of agency and empowerment in existing literature with the goal of advancing a conceptual framework and advocating for Amartya Sen's approach to agency and capabilities. 

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Direct measures of agency in both adults and children


Name of Survey, Year, Country: 2014

Author and Organization: Ushma D. Upadhyay, Jessica D. Gipson, Mellissa Withers, Shayna Lewis
Erica J. Ciaraldi, Ashley Fraser, Megan J. Huchko, Ndola Prata

Topic/Construct: Fertility, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Description of Review or Paper: Literature review of studies examining the relationships between women's empowerment and fertility outcomes in low- and middle-income countries 

Description of Measurement and Existing Measures: Articles examine women's empowerment either as an independent or dependent variable and describe how it is measured.


Name of Survey, Year, Country:

Author and Organization: Ruth A. Wittmann-Price, DeSales University

Topic/Construct: Emancipation in Decision-Making, Nursing, Women's Health Care

Description of Review or Paper: Literature review and concept analysis used to derive a conceptual meaning of emancipation that benefits patient care as well as professional nursing development. Identified attributes include: empowerment, personal knowledge, social norms, reflection, and flexible environment

Logos for Women's health, gender, and empowerment and University of California Global Health Institute

The Center of Expertise on Women’s Health, Gender, and Empowerment (WHGE) is pleased to present the first centralized repository of validated women’s empowerment and gender-equity-related measures focused on women’s health outcomes. The measures included in this database represent a wide range of constructs and health topics and have been tested in both domestic and global contexts.

With the rise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and social movements that highlight gender-based violence, women’s empowerment and gender equity have become top priorities in policy and development efforts worldwide. Equitable gender norms are intimately linked to women’s wellbeing and upheld as both an ends and a means of achieving other global health and development targets.

The ability to set priorities and assess government achievements, interventions, and change overtime are critical for realizing the shared vision of healthy and empowered women and girls. Yet, “empowerment” is a complex and multi-dimensional concept that is challenging to define, capture, and quantify.

To this end, the WHGE Measure Database seeks to:

  • Advance research efforts to reduce gender and health inequities.
  • Enable broader use of evidence-based tools for high-quality research and encourage the development of new and innovative measures of women’s empowerment and gender equity.
  • Improve program evaluation and assessment of programmatic impacts.
  • Contribute to the expanding theoretical and applied definitions of women’s empowerment.  The database is accessible to all researchers, educators, students, and program staff to encourage collaboration and improve our collective understanding of gaps and progress in the field.


Conducted an extensive, structured review of current women’s health and empowerment literature using PubMed and PsychInfo databases, supplemented with manual reference searching. The initial search yielded over 1,500 relevant articles published after the year 2000.

All article abstracts were skimmed and selected for a full-text review if the piece included a measure of women’s empowerment, gender equity, or gender norms and pertained to a women’s health outcome including cancer, mental health, nutrition, pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health and/or violence. Existing, quantitative measures were identified and secondary searches for the original validation studies were carried out when necessary.

Information about the measures was abstracted from the literature and organized into an online compendium according to psychometric properties, publication year, and level of measurement. Additional resources on the conceptualization and measurement of women’s empowerment and composite indices used to approximate and compare gender equity globally were also included to introduce the breadth of tools currently being utilized in the field.

This database will continue to be updated. If you have literature or resources to add to the database, please email the citation and any other pertinent information to:


This database was developed by Alexandra Carter, MPH and Ushma Upadyay, PhD, MPH, University of California San Francisco.

This database is a product of the Center of Expertise in Women's Health, Gender, and Empowerment (WHGE CoE), University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI).

Special thanks to University of California students, staff, and alumni and CoE members, Adrienne Faxio, Tamara Flora, Erika Mey, Atreyi Mitra, Emily Nyugen, Allison Power, and Rachel Mernoff, Stephanie Sumstine. Jennifer Zakaras contributed to the original design and planning process with additional input from the Women's Health, Gender, and Empowerment CoE faculty and leadership, Ndola Prata, Dallas Swendeman, Melissa Smith, and Jennifer Wagman.