Identifying the Structure and Multiple Dimensions of Women’s Empowerment: Methodological Considerations in Examining Empowerment and Reproductive Health

Kyoko Shimamoto, University of California, Los Angeles

Women’s empowerment and reproductive health have been an important research agenda, yet the methodological critique persists with conceptualization, operationalization, and measurement. This study identifies the structure and multiple dimensions of empowerment, and compares the different operationalization (e.g., summative continuous/binary, each indicator, latent construct) as they relate to skilled birth attendant (SBA) use. The 2010 demographic and health surveys in Senegal (weighted n=7,033) and Tanzania (n=4,445) are used. Using frequently used 10 indicators related to gender-relation between couples, factor analyses have identified three factors: household decision-making power, perceptions of gender norms against violence, and perceptions for sex negotiation. Also, age at first marriage is shown as a different dimension. Multivariate logistic regression analyses show that the different structures of empowerment variables lead to varied estimates of the influence of empowerment on SBA use. Women’s empowerment is a multidimensional construct, and its operationalization should be carefully determined in a given context.

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Presented in Poster Session 9: Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, and Reproductive Health