In 2011/12, IFPRI, USAID, and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative developed the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which was initially launched in Bangladesh as part of the PRSSP-designed Bangladesh Integrated Household Survey (BIHS). After collecting two rounds of empowerment data from the BIHS 2011/12 and 2015 panel surveys, USAID and IFPRI are now preparing to pilot a modified version of WEAI to capture empowerment data of producers, wage earners, and entrepreneurs in Bangladesh’s agriculture sector under the pilot project, “Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture for Value Chain,” or WEAI4VC.
Enumerator training is a critical element of collecting high quality data. From March 20–April 9, IFPRI and a local survey firm Data Analysis and Technical Assistance (DATA) are training 40 survey enumerators, 10 supervisors, and 2 field monitors to collect WEAI4VC baseline data. The fifteen-day training includes a comprehensive review of all survey modules, and mock interviews and feedback. Additionally, survey enumerators are being trained to use tablets to collect data, which will enable real-time data collection, and, based on IFPRI’s experience, will likely improve data quality.
In April, IFPRI and USAID will launch the WEAI4VC baseline survey in the USAID-supported Feed the Future Zone of Influence in southwest Bangladesh – one of the worst affected regions nationally by floods, drought, salinity, tidal waves, and cyclones. The survey will collect household data related to various topics, including livelihoods and employment, household shocks, and land and agriculture, as well as capture individual-level data such as role and autonomy in household decisionmaking, mobility, and time allocation.
Many women in Bangladesh working in agriculture are involved in postharvest activities. However, the current WEAI is limited in capturing empowerment in agricultural production, despite the fact that various USAID Feed the Future implementing partners focus on value chain actors such as input dealers. Once this instrument is finalized, USAID partners working on value chain development may better capture empowerment within their projects. Further, the results will help researchers better assess the state of empowerment and gender parity along the agricultural value chain, thereby identifying key areas in empowerment that need to be strengthened.