Evaluating Gaps in Women Empowerment Indices and Strategies to Bridge Them

Panel Discussion | Online

About the Event

Women empowerment indices play a crucial role in assessing progress towards gender equality, but they often fail to capture the full complexity of women's empowerment. The existing indices such as the Global Gender Gap Index primarily focus on economic participation, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. However, they overlook critical dimensions such as access to healthcare, decision-making power within households, and freedom from gender-based violence.

Additionally, research conducted by the World Economic Forum in 2020 revealed that even within the dimensions covered by existing indices, significant disparities exist, particularly concerning
women's economic participation and access to healthcare. To address the gaps identified, researchers advocate for the development of a holistic indicators that include a broader range of
women empowerment dimensions captured through well-defined indicators. For example, the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), introduced by the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) in 2012, expands beyond traditional measures by considering factors such as access to and control over productive resources, decision-making power within
households, and leadership in community organizations. By incorporating such multidimensional indicators, researchers can gain a more nuanced understanding of women's empowerment

Efforts to enhance data collection methods are also essential for ensuring the inclusion of marginalized voices. Initiatives such as the UN Women's "Making Every Woman and Girl Count"; program,
launched in 2017, aim to improve the availability and quality of gender data by investing in national statistical systems and promoting the use of sex-disaggregated data in policymaking. By
collecting data through participatory approaches and is aggregating it by relevant demographic factors such as age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, researchers can better identify disparities and tailor interventions to address the specific needs of marginalized women. An intersectional lens is crucial for understanding the complex interactions between gender inequality and other forms of oppression. Research by scholars like Kimberlé Crenshaw, spanning from the late 1980s to the present day, highlights how women's experiences of empowerment are shaped by intersecting factors such as race, class, sexuality, and disability. For example, a study published in Gender & Society in 2019 found that indigenous women and women with disabilities often face additional barriers to accessing education, healthcare, and economic opportunities compared to their non-marginalized counterparts.

By setting realistic benchmarks and integrating qualitative insights from marginalized women themselves, researchers can develop more effective strategies for promoting gender equality. Participatory action research projects led by organizations like the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) engage women from marginalized communities in the design and implementation of empowerment interventions, ensuring that their voices are heard and their priorities are addressed. Ultimately, by adopting a more inclusive and intersectional approach to women's empowerment, researchers and policymakers can pave the way for meaningful progress towards gender equality.

The panel will thus discuss on the gaps in the existing Women Empowerment Index and suggest pathways to bridge the same.


Name Title Biography
Dr. Vikash Vaibhav Assistant Professor Dr Vikash Vaibhav is an Assistant Professor at O.P. JIndal Global University (JGU). He was earlier associated with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar School of Economics (BASE), Bengaluru and IWWAGE, New Delhi. He has completed his doctoral thesis at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai. Dr. Vaibhav is interested in key Indian developmental questions, including poverty & inequality, regional disparity, rural industrialization, and labour. His core competency lies in Applied Econometric techniques and India’s developmental dataset. He has participated, and completed, three full marathons.
Mridusmita Bordoloi Economist Mridusmita is an Economist at IWWAGE, an initiative of LEAD. She has 20 years of research experience, primarily in the areas of India’s labour market, education sector, child protection, and household sector income & consumption patterns in India. Her research work has been largely based on quantitative analysis of official large-scale surveys (NSSO, PFFS, NFHS, ASI), census (Census of India, U-DISE Plus), macro-economic datasets, and India’s public finances (Union budget, State budgets, and District treasuries). She has extensive experience in conducting primary surveys, including sampling design, questionnaire designing, and training. She has focussed on understanding the status of provisioning of public welfare services in the social sector, equity in outcomes, and implementation of various policy interventions. She has studied the implementation processes of centrally sponsored schemes related to education and child-protection sectors, including analysis of public finances and governance structures. She has also conducted fund-flow tracking surveys to understand last mile reach of public finances and utilisation of budgets. In the area of labour market, she has worked on financial returns to education, informality, social security of unorganised workers in India, linkages between education and labour market, and gender-gaps in labour market outcomes. Currently she is engaged in research to understand challenges related to women’s labour market participation in India and ways of enhancing women’s work participation.


Name Title Biography
Arpita Paul Senior Research Associate Arpita Paul is a statistician cum demographer with over 10 years of quantitative research experience in public health, market research, survey implementation around RMNCH issues in different contextual settings. Her research activities mainly focused on social determinants of health and wellbeing, understanding various aspects of maternal & child health, factors determining the health, wellbeing and living arrangement of the elderly. Before joining IWWAGE, she was working with Public Health Foundation of India, Gurugram where she was the lead analyst. She has substantial experiences in survey design, large scale data handling, and advanced statistical analysis along with expertise in various statistical software. She has a PhD in Demography from International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai and a post graduate degree in Statistics from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.

Topics and Themes

Evaluators Evaluation users Decision makers VOPEs / Evaluation networks Academics Civil Servant / Intl. Organization Employee Evaluation and transformational change: balancing ambition and realism Evaluation Networks Gender Responsive Evaluation

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