© Gates Archive I Shawn Koh I Schoolchildren stand outside the Xinfeng Village Kindergarten in Dayin Town, Qixingguan District, Bijie City, Guizhou Province, China I 2018


How to measure empowerment


Measuring empowerment means tracking changes in the access to and exercise of choice, voice and power over time, and comparing these changes across populations. Ideally, your approach should include both qualitative and quantitative methods in what is often called a mixed-method approach. A mixed methods approach is the most effective way to capture these complex power relations and the multiple, intersecting elements of empowerment. Although a mixed methods approach can be more time and resource intensive, both in terms of the data collection and analysis process, it is the most effective way to shed light on local processes that are either facilitating or hindering program effectiveness.


Quantitative data can be useful for tracking changes in empowerment or different elements of empowerment over a period of time, and for monitoring and formal evaluation. For example quantitative methods are particularly useful to analyze variables in large samples, that have been identified through qualitative research. Quantitative research is also effective at overcoming researcher bias and avoids over-generalizing findings, which can occur through qualitative methods

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Qualitative research methods are useful for assessing community needs, designing prevention campaigns, planning and evaluating interventions, and engaging community actors via participatory research. They are also useful in designing and field-testing questionnaires, and in interpreting quantitative research findings.


Participatory evaluation is an approach that involves the stakeholders of a program in the evaluation process. This can occur at any stage of the evaluation process: design, data collection and analysis, and reporting. A participatory approach can be taken with any impact evaluation design and with quantitative and qualitative data.



Method When to use it
RANDOM RESPONSE TECHNIQUE The Random Response Technique is an approach that can be used in surveys to decrease social desirability bias and obtain reliable estimates. This survey technique determines whether a respondent answers sensitive questions or not, blinded to the interviewer. It is useful when dealing with sensitive personal issues. Random response technique is best self-administered and in face-to-face interviews.
VIGNETTES Vignettes are a simple technique that places respondents in hypothetical situations. They can provide a less personal way of exploring sensitive topics. Vignettes are well-suited to gathering data on social norms and processes behind decision-making. Vignettes are best used in self-administered and face-to-face interviews or focus group discussions. See Appendix 5 for a discussion on using vignettes to measure social norms.
IMPLICIT ASSOCIATION TEST Implicit Association Test (IAT) is the automatic association between mental representations of objects in memory. It is used to elicit (implicit) associations and capture attitudes that cannot be measured through explicit self-reporting methods. It is useful for overcoming social desirability. IAT can be used in self-administered and face-to-face interviews.
ACASI ELECTRONIC SURVEYS Self-administered surveys can be done by either paper or electronic means. Electronic surveys allow the survey to be read out-loud, which is helpful for illiterate populations. They can be selfad-ministered with audio files to ask questions or can be administered from a distance, to provide a more confidential assessment. Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interview (ACASI) uses a computer as an interviewer. The questions are generated through the computer itself. The ACASI method is useful for dealing with sensitive personal issues.
LIE SCALE The Lie Scale is a set of items that can be included in a survey to capture lying. It is often used by psychologists to indicate whether or not a respondent has been truthful in other parts of the survey.

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