Race, Culture, and Identity
Measuring Women's Empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analyses of the Demographic and Health Surveys
Background: Women’s status and empowerment influence health, nutrition, and
socioeconomic status of women and their children. Despite its benefits, however,
research on women’s empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is limited in scope and
geography. Empowerment is variably defined and data for comparison across regions is
often limited. The objective of the current study was to identify domains of empowerment
from a widely available data source, Demographic and Health Surveys, across multiple
regions in SSA.
Methods: Demographic and Health Surveys from nineteen countries representing four
African regions were used for the analysis. A total of 26 indicators across different
dimensions (economic, socio-cultural, education, and health) were used to characterize
women’s empowerment. Pooled data from all countries were randomly divided into two
datasets—one for exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and the other for Confirmatory Factor
Analysis (CFA)—to verify the factor structure hypothesized during EFA.
Results: Four factors including attitudes toward violence, labor force participation,
education, and access to healthcare were found to define women’s empowerment
in Central, Southern, and West Africa. However, in East Africa, only three factors
were relevant: attitudes toward violence, access to healthcare ranking, and labor force
participation. There was limited evidence to support household decision-making, life
course, or legal status domains as components of women’s empowerment.
Conclusion: This foremost study advances scholarship on women’s empowerment
by providing a validated measure of women’s empowerment for researchers and other
stakeholders in health and development.
No Related Publications available