Measurement of Women’s Agency in Egypt: A National Validation Study

Kathryn M. Yount, Emory University
Kristin VanderEnde, Emory University
Sylvie Dodell, Emory University
Yuk Fai Cheong, Emory University

Using data for 6,214 married women 16–49y who participated in the 2006 Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey, we explored and tested the factor structure of women’s agency. We used Multiple Indicator Multiple Cause structural equations models to test for differential item functioning (DIF) by women’s age at first marriage, a resource for agency. Women’s agency was multi-dimensional and included their influence in family decisions (reserved for men); freedom of movement in public; and non-justification of violence against wives. These dimensions confirm those explored in one Egyptian governorate and South Asia. Three items showed uniform DIF by women’s age at marriage, with and without a control for women’s age. Adjusting for DIF and women’s age, women’s older age at marriage was positively associated with factor means for family decision-making and non-justification of violence, but not freedom of movement. Our rigorous approach to the measurement of women's agency should be widely applied.

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Presented in Session 211: Measurement Issues and Innovations in Family Research