© Gates Archive I Dominique Catton I Children gather around a routine check-in for the ongoing MORDOR study in Bossadji, Niger I 2018


Results and Indicators


Although there is often a temptation to apply universal templates and frameworks, there is no one standard approach to measuring empowerment. Just like your investment, your approach to measurement should always be fit-for-purpose.

Translating the Model of Women and Girls’ Empowerment to measurement in grants entails: articulating empowerment of women and girls in a results chain; formulating explicit empowerment focused outcomes within that results chain, and; developing relevant indicators for those outcomes, and subsequently selecting appropriate data collection and analysis methods. Be clear and strategic about why empowerment is being measured in the program and how it will be used. Always use an intersectional lens to measure empowerment. This requires collecting data on different demographics or social markers of difference, such as ethnicity or gender identity and disaggregating empowerment data by these demographics.


Results chains that capture empowerment of women and girls as a process and an outcome of transformative change share the following characteristics:

– They present a combination of outcomes from different elements of the model (agency, institutional structures and resources).

– They present changes at multiple levels, within the context of larger social and systemic change.

The decision to include empowerment, or an element of empowerment as a primary outcome, intermediate outcome, or both, will depend on the priorities and the logical flow of the program’s theory of change. The example results frameworks demonstrate where the elements of empowerment can logically fit in your investment, as either a primary or intermediate outcomes, or both.

Download example Results Frameworks pdf

There is no definitive list of perfect indicators for measuring agency. When you are selecting indicators for your investment, refer to the Guiding Principles to measuring empowerment, and be mindful that they are fit-for-purpose and use a mixed methods approach.

The indicators presented in the pdf are examples only. Indicators for each element of the empowerment model are presented by sector, with a focus on: agriculture; family planning; water, sanitation and hygiene; and financial services for the poor. Validated indicators commonly used in the field are included as examples, as well as other more innovative or experimental indicators.

Download example Indicators pdf

Setting targets based on the rates of change you can expect to see in indicators is context specific and will depend on the project, the indicator and timeline. To set appropriate targets, a gender analysis will help to get a baseline understanding of the local context, if change has been observed in the past, and whether similar change can be expected in the future. It is important to regularly reassess and refine your targets, using findings from both qualitative and quantitative assessments.


There are some advantages to using indices or scales over individual measures. An index is a way of compiling one score from a series of questions or statements that reflects a belief, feeling, or attitude. A scale asks a series of related questions about a key issue, allowing you to aggregate, or combine, multiple indicators into a single score, and often helps to more accurately capture the complexity of an issue than through a single measure. By using a validated scale, you can also compare results across different settings and countries. However, because scales and indices include multiple questions you should weigh their benefits with the length they will add to your survey.

Download Indices and Scales pdf

Foundation Definitions for Outcome Investing:

Primary outcomes The overall change(s) in technologies, systems, populations or behaviors the investment seeks to achieve within the context of the investment timeframe.
Intermediate outcomes The changes in technologies, systems, populations or behaviors that need to be achieved to realize the primary outcome(s).
Outputs The goods, services, events or deliverables against which progress can be assessed or comparisons made.
Indicators Quantitative or qualitative variables against which progress can be assessed or comparisons made.
Proxy Indirect measure that approximates the phenomenon in the absence of a direct measure.
Index / scale Composite measures of multiple indicators, that condense information to allow for comparison across time and space.

Download the Empowerment Methods Note