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Welcome to the M&E Blog Series! First up: WEAI Twitter chat

It's all about M&E

Tania TamWelcome to the M&E Blog Series! I’m Tania Tam from the Feed the Future M&E Team. I’m planning to give you a peek into Feed the Future M&E from the inside and start discussions about M(&)E.

In this blog series, we’ll be talking about the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index, our FTF Learning Agenda, and other M&E topics of note. You can expect to see a post every two weeks. We hope you bookmark us and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Post your comments on what we can do to make this more useful for you!


Last week, Emily Hogue and I answered your questions about the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) in a Twitter Hour, through the medium of tweet-speak. We got a lot of great questions and had a lot of fun responding to your tweets. 

Tania, Maciej, Emily, and Jen during the Twitter chat.
This is what we look like when tweeting.

Emily Hogue and Jen Cupp tweeting.

Here's tweeting at you, kid. 

Questions & Answers from the Twitter Chat

The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index is the first of its kind, measuring whether women can own land and equipment, access credit, make decisions about the crops they grow, and much more. Unlike many other surveys of women's empowerment, it also takes men into account, and compares women’s empowerment to men’s empowerment. So I’d like to take a moment to share some of the questions and answers from our Twitter Hour.

These questions and answers have been modified from Twitter for clarity. I am impressed at how much our ME practitioners can say in 140 characters! U R GR8.

When will all survey tools be released?

  • They are available now here.

How long does it take to conduct one survey?

  • The survey takes about 30-40 minutes on average per person interviewed, so can take a total of ½ to 1½ hours per household.

Over what time frame will the WEAI measure change – 1 year? 5 years?

  • It will be conducted every two years – at baseline, midterm and final. So the time frame is 5 years.

Will the WEAI be implemented at FTF project levels, or only at the national or regional level by FTF Missions?

  • The WEAI will be collected for the FTF zones of influence -- the targeted areas in the countries in which FTF operates.

Can WEAI be used for groups or only for individuals?

  • WEAI was developed to survey individuals. It is not currently geared to collect data at a group level.

Can the WEAI be used in non-FTF countries?

  • Yes, it can be used in other countries, but the survey has to be adapted to each local context.

What indicators will be used to measure success?

  • There are 10 indicators in 5 domains:

Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index Indicators

If the indicators are what highlight specific constraints, why use an index?

  • WEAI can serve as a quick gauge of women’s status in agriculture. It can provide motivation and serve as a warning to policy makers.
  • For more on how the WEAI can be used for policy and planning, check out the brochure on IFPRI's website.

Given the complexity of empowerment as a concept, is a quantitative tool the most appropriate?

  • WEAI has a practical function to track progress in this area, but it is not the final word on empowerment.
  • The WEAI team is also working to supplement the index research with qualitative research, e.g. interviews and case studies.
  • All FTF impact evaluations will use mixed methods; evaluations that track women's empowerment will use both quantitative and qualitative methods around the WEAI domains.
  • Additionally, USAID and IFPRI plan to support a few dissertation grants for funding research related to WEAI domains.

How will the WEAI measure women’s income and expenditures viz FTF?

  • WEAI measures women’s control over how a household uses agricultural income.  The focus is on empowerment, distinct from economic status. The WEAI focuses on power over income and resources, not on amounts.
  • But FTF will also collect household expenditure data in surveys with the WEAI, allowing us to examine the relationship between household expenditures and empowerment.

How will the WEAI incorporate improving women’s land rights? Your five focus areas can be improved if women have land rights. 

How does the index apply to women in women-no-men households (formerly called women-headed households)?

  • The WEAI is collected in households with men and women, or just women.  All women are measured in the 5DE (five domains of women’s empowerment) but households with only women do not factor in the GPI (gender parity index, which compares women and men’s empowerment).
  • The WEAI team chose indicators to measure empowerment in the household and community, trying to balance for all aspects of empowerment.
  • Women-only households may be more empowered in domains on Decision-making, but less empowered in Time Use, Access to Credit, or Leadership.
  • The data is aggregated so that overall, women’s empowerment can be compared to men’s, not just within households, but across households in the FTF zones of influence.

Could this tool be used in projects and programs as a survey instrument to establish a baseline and then monitor progress throughout instead of only having two-year check-ins?

  • WEAI can be used for projects, but some indicators that involve social patterns that may not move fast enough to warrant more frequent collection.

Is the index ready for us to use in our programs as a reliable and valid tool, or does it still need tweaking?

  • The WEAI needs to be tweaked for the cultural context of each place (e.g., crop grown), but the tool is now final, valid and reliable, on the IFPRI website.

Why did you choose both subjective and objective measures?

  • Objective measures alone can’t capture all aspects of empowerment, which is also related to people’s perceptions of their status.
  • For example, the WEAI measures “time use” by the number of hours people worked (objective measure) AND “satisfaction with leisure time” (subjective measure).

Will the WEAI be compared or tested against objective measures of child growth and development?

  • In most FTF countries, the WEAI will be collected in household surveys with data on nutrition, which will allow for multivariate analysis on this.

Does the WEAI account for wealth disparities separate from inequality? For example, women in an oil rich Gulf State vs. Haitian market ladies?

  • The WEAI deliberately focused only on issues of empowerment in agriculture (so oil rich women would not be surveyed), but a wealth index was also included in the data collection to show how it relates to empowerment.
  • Wealth was associated with empowerment but did not guarantee it – 55% of women in the top wealth quintile were not yet empowered.

How does USAID and FTF plan to roll of the WEAI in existing USG projects? Can it be used bit by bit or only in whole?

  • The indicators can be used individually but can’t be used as an index if it is broken apart – the index can only be used as a whole.

Can I use the WEAI when my program intervention is at association level and not directed at the individual households or farmers?

  • If you believe the program will impact individuals and households, then yes WEAI could be applicable.

How does the WEAI address nutrition security of women and children in her household?

  • The WEAI doesn’t address nutrition, only agriculture. But WEAI will be collected with nutrition indicators, which will allow us to examine this relationship.

How will the WEAI encourage men to be supportive of women’s involvement with agriculture?

  • The WEAI will provide insights into women’s engagement in agriculture, hopefully encouraging policy makers – male and female – to support women through good policy.

WEAI involves some big organizations. How will it incorporate or work with smaller local organizations?

  • We are talking with many smaller partners about how they can use the WEAI for M&E. We are also using smaller local organizations to help us collect data on the WEAI.

If we don’t know sample size calculations, can we effectively use the WEAI to measure change yet?

  • The WEAI will be collected in large sample sizes for FTF (upwards of 1,500 households) with enough power to detect change.

How many women have to be profiled to get good picture of a community?

  • The WEAI is new, and we hope to have more info on this after FTF baseline data is collected.

How does the WEAI fill the data gap on women’s development?

  • The WEAI will provide a comprehensive set of data on women in the agriculture sector and on women in rural areas. While it does not cover all areas of development, it fills the gap for this critical development sector. It also provides a model for how to track data in other sectors.

I find the domains of productivity, resources, income, leadership, and time interesting, especially the weights. How were these chosen?

  • The domains were chosen based on a review of FTF.

Any thoughts on how the WEAI can increase favorable access to finance policy for women’s entrepreneurs in agriculture?

  • The WEAI tracks control over and access to productive resources, including micro-finance, which can influence policy makers’ decisions around finance policies.

What role do you envision for development partners in the future collection of the WEAI?

  • We hope our partners can make use of the WEAI for the M&E of projects.

Who developed the WEAI?

  • The WEAI was developed by USAID, IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) and OPHI (Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative).

Will the impact evaluations be centralized in some way so that they are comparable across projects?

  • FTF is developing a comprehensive evaluation agenda to standardize methodologies and focus on key questions.

Where can we access more info on guidance for the WEAI?


Thank for visiting the blog! Please let me know if there is something you’d like to see on this or if you have any other feedback.

We plan to have another Twitter chat on our Learning Agenda -- hope 2 C U then!