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Presenting the Empowerment in WASH Index

This brief describes how EWI is constructed and shows how the Index has been applied in Burkina Faso.

Empowerment is crucial, both as a stand-alone goal and for achieving other development objectives. A number of approaches have been developed to measure women’s empowerment. Tools to capture global gender disparities include the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), which measures participation in economic and political life, and the Gender Development Index (GDI), which measures gender differences in human development. At the country level, however, these tools are limited because they do not directly measure individual empowerment or household and community power relations. Approaches using individual-level data have been developed, including the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which directly measures the empowerment of men and women in the agricultural sector. The WEAI has been used both to monitor interventions and to inform the design of gender-integrated interventions and policies.

Despite the important links between WASH services and gender equality, measurement of empowerment related to WASH has so far been limited, especially compared to other areas of development such as access to financial services, reproductive health, and agriculture and nutrition. Monitoring tools have tended to focus on household access to different levels of WASH services, with little attempt to measure progress in achieving gender and social equality outcomes.

The Empowerment in Wash Index (EWI) measures agency, participation and empowerment in the water and sanitation sector. The Index is made up of indicators to assess empowerment in relation to WASH roles and responsibilities as well as broader society (see Table 1). Data on each indicator is collected using a survey that targets both male and female decision-makers in households. The indicators address empowerment at individual, household and community levels.

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