Annex III Women's Empowerment In

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					Annex III: Women’s Empowerment Indicators
Another key area of learning that staff identified from CARE’s
journey in Burundi has been its work in identifying indicators
for women’s empowerment. Teams for two projects -- Kirumara and
Umwizero -- took part in the research. The research was also
linked to CARE’s Strategic Impact Inquiry on women’s empowerment,
a 3 year impact research initiative that involved 30 countries
with the specific goal of fostering a culture of critical
thinking in CARE, and with those we serve.
For this research, CARE aimed to draw its working definition of
women’s empowerment from the voices of the women and communities
it seeks to serve. Through interviews and focus group discussions
with men and women from communities where CARE works, project
staff explored local definitions of women’s empowerment as well
as obstacles to empowerment. Community debates were led by
representatives from women’s solidarity groups during which
participants discussed characteristics of empowerment, their
dreams and aspirations as well as barriers they faced against
gender equity or empowerment.
What were key themes about empowerment from women’s responses?
From the studies, a number of key themes emerged as critical to
women’s empowerment:
  ·   Matrimonial stability - many women viewed legalized
      marriage as a form of protection from abandonment and for
      their rights to be upheld. However, the possible negative
      effects or harms from legalized marriage are not yet clear
      and CARE must continue research on this aspect of
      empowerment in order to understand the dynamics of marriage
      for women’s empowerment as well as possible harms that may
      result from legalized marriage or civil unions.
  ·   Access to income - many women discussed the importance of
      earning their own money as a key for greater empowerment
      and independence from men. The research also found that not
      all women had equal access to credit. This discovery called
      for greater research on how age, ethnicity, socio-economic
      status, literacy and behaviors may limit or preclude
      women’s participation in groups or gain access to credit.
  ·   Management of household resources - Typically men are
      responsible for decisions on how household resources are
      allocated. Thus, women felt that greater decision-making
      power was important for them to gain respect and minimize
      household conflicts.
  ·   Involvement in community decision-making - In addition to
      greater voice and participation in household decision-
      making, women also expressed the desire to take greater
      responsibilities at the community level. This involves both
      taking part in conflict resolution as well as community
      development committees that would allow women greater
      access to justice and productive resources.
  ·   Gender based violence - In Burundi, violence against women
      is both pervasive and reinforced in local traditions and
      proverbs. Taboo surrounding violence also prevents women
      from reporting violence in their homes. In order to
      effectively counter violence, the study also found that it
      is important to combat violence at multiple levels
      (individual, household, community, regional and national)
      through psycho-social support for women and couples to
      advocacy in communities and national government against
      violence against women.
  ·   Sexuality - Taboo also surrounds subjects related to sexual
      relations. women and men both felt that it would be
      important for families to empower women to discuss sex and
      family planning with her husband. To reinforce more open
      communication between men and women, staff must gain skills
      in facilitating sensitive conversations between men and
      women. CARE must begin by questioning our own beliefs,
      attitudes and behaviors in relation to sexuality.
  ·   Access to information and training - Finally, women also
      discussed the importance of having access to information
      and training for their empowerment. Among women, leaders
      attributed their skills to both formal and non-formal
      education and training.
Reviewing CARE’s work on women’s empowerment, the studies found
that while projects have actively sought to build women’s skills
and knowledge to excel, as well as helped them gain social
capital through work with mobilizing groups and training men on
women’s issues, CARE’s work in Burundi has not placed enough
emphasis on changing the traditional gendered structures that
perpetuate women’s disempowerment. Across responses,
What were the key lessons about indicators for women’s
empowerment that came out of this research?
Beyond the indicators themselves, project teams reported a number
of key lessons about indicators from the research and reflection
1. Diversity of indicators: Women are diverse. They have
   different definitions for empowerment, often tied to their
   stations in life and how society views or treats them as a
   result of these characteristics (by ethnicity, class/wealth,
   age, etc). Furthermore, within Burundi, region also plays an
   important role in defining what empowerment looks like in
   communities. For example, in the plains of Burundi, polygamy
   is much more common as compared to people living in the hills.
   As a result, gender/power relations tied to polygamy play a
   more prevalent role in women’s lives within the plains and
   influence their views of empowerment.
2. Importance of Incorporating Women’s Views: Furthermore, teams
   expressed that one of the most important aspect for their own
   learning came out of their conversations with women about
   their own definitions of empowerment. CARE Burundi’s research
   on WE produced new characteristics of empowerment that
   surprised staff. Staff had not realized, for example, the
   significance of proper and clean clothing for women as a
   characteristic of empowerment. Also, they did not know how
   important gaining respect from others was for women’s own
   sense of empowerment until engaging women in conversations
   about empowerment and how women would define it.
3. Dynamic-ness of indicators: Many staff also commented on how
   women’s dreams of empowerment change over time. Particularly
   with the changes linked to program interventions, women’s
   views of empowerment will necessarily change. While during
   baseline studies, women may describe the ability to attend
   community level meetings as a measure of empowerment, perhaps
   by mid-term they gain a new understanding of empowerment as
   their aspirations change and women may describe the ability to
   speak in community meetings or holding a position in local
   government as examples of empowerment. In some cases,
   indicators for empowerment developed in program design may no
   longer be pertinent to women’s lives as projects progress.
  To capture the dynamism of empowerment, CARE conducts focus
  groups of women on the definition of women’s empowerment. CARE
  then develops a baseline questionnaire, based on women’s
  responses. Each indicator question offers a spectrum of
  responses to illustrate different levels of empowerment. For
  example, participation in decision-making may have a number of
  responses that range from ‘not able to attend community level
  meetings’ to ‘attends meetings and actively contributes points
  of views verbally.’ The same questions with responses are
  asked again over the course of the project to assess how
  women’s levels of empowerment have changed in relation to
  different domains. Analysis of scores helps project and
  program teams to gauge changes in women’s lives and CARE’s
  contribution to these changes.
4. Inconsistency of empowerment indicators in women’s lives
   (private vs. public): The latest phase of SII research also
   highlighted how women’s levels of empowerment shift from one
   sphere of life to another. One staff member mentioned that she
   felt women were much more empowered in their communities than
   in their households. Researchers from the study were surprised
   to find women leaders in the community continued to tolerate
   violence from their husbands in their homes and could not
   negotiate household management/use of resources with husbands.
   This highlighted the importance of studying changes in women’s
   lives in their various roles and relations (public and
   private) in order to effectively understand their empowerment.
What does this mean for CARE’s work?
CARE Burundi’s approach toward measuring women’s empowerment has
tried to take into account these findings within their work
through a number of methods.
5. Development of Women’s Empowerment Indicators: In each project
   that works with women, CARE Burundi aims to include about 5
   ‘universal indicators’ for women’s empowerment, which are
   still being defined. These indicators will be selected based
   on the findings from its women’s empowerment indicators
   research (including baseline studies such as the one cited
   above) as cross-cutting definitions/characteristics of
   empowerment that women identified as important. By tracking
   similar indicators across projects, CARE Burundi hopes to
   learn more about the dynamics of women’s empowerment across
   interventions as well as how specific interventions interact
   with women’s empowerment differently. In addition, based on
   their own research with women, each project also develops more
   tailored indicators for women specific to their work and
6. Room for Change: The SII highlighted the importance of
   monitoring the evolution of women’s views on empowerment. In
   order to remain more closely informed with the community, CARE
   Burundi has:
  1.1. moved their field coordinators to be based in local
       target communities
  1.2. incorporated appreciative inquiry (dialogues valorisants)
       with local communities as part of their daily work.
  From daily inquiries and interaction with women and community
  members, field coordinators learn about changes in women’s
  lives as well as in their dreams/aspirations. Each month,
  project teams meet to discuss progress and also identify
  patterns or important information arising from appreciative
  inquiry. From these meetings, project teams draft monthly
  reports on their work. During monitoring and evaluation, teams
  revisit indicators for women’s empowerment in light of monthly
  reports (and inquiries with communities) and adjust indicators
  as necessary. While normally CARE can adapt indicators
  following baseline studies, only one project has been able to
  revise indicators after a mid-term review. Remaining
  responsive to communities in how CARE views empowerment
  provides a number challenges. While staff receive an
  orientation on appreciative inquiry, not all staff fully
  understand how to (or simply fail to) conduct appreciative
  inquiries. Furthermore, while CARE has collected a multitude
  of women’s stories through appreciative inquiry, they have not
  been sufficiently collected or mined to deepen broader
  organizational learning about women’s lives and empowerment.
  Finally, beyond internal challenges CARE faces in taking up
  knowledge from the community through the dialogues, donors may
  also not be receptive to the changes involved in adjusting
  indicators for empowerment with the shifting realities around
  women’s lives.
7. Continued Research on Women’s Empowerment: In order to better
   understand women’s empowerment, CARE Burundi has plans to
   commit to further learning on women’s empowerment and some
   respondents discussed the need to continue to evolve CARE
   Burundi’s understanding of women’s empowerment. To challenge
   staff to reflect on empowerment, CARE Burundi has begun to
   hold workshops for staff using the Social Analysis for Action
   (SAA) guide to help staff identify their own values, biases
   and blind-spots in regard to reflect more on sensitive issues
   like sexual and reproductive health and gender.

  Currently, the women’s empowerment program team is researching
  a number of gender-related initiatives as well. Namely, the
  team is exploring methods in engaging men for women’s
  empowerment and also the dynamics surrounding legalized
  marriage. At present, some groups and staff promote legalized
  marriage as an important aspect of women’s empowerment.
  However, the team sees the need to research the relationship
  more closely to understand how legal/non-formal marriages
  affect women’s empowerment/well-being as well as that of their
8. Preparing and Supporting Staff: In addition to supporting
   staff to engage in sensitive and productive discussions on
   issues of sexual/reproductive health and gender (which has
   been initiated through the SAA), many respondents expressed
   the need to support staff to take on more reflective and
   analytical roles in their work. For example, staff mentioned
   the need for trainings on analysis skills to be able to draw
   key lessons and patterns out of their observations and
   interactions with women and communities. In addition to
   training needs, staff also saw time as a key barrier against
   developing and using indicators that are pertinent to women’s
   empowerment and that adapt to changing definitions of
Furthermore, many people also mentioned the importance of
debating traditional practices and values in terms of human
rights (i.e. practice of dowry/polygamy, value of large families,
male traditional roles in the household, domestic violence) among
staff. In order to promote and understand women’s empowerment,
staff must confront and understand their own values and biases.

Further Resources:
Rivuzimana, A. (2007). Les indicateurs d’empowerment des femmes
au nord du Burundi. UMWIZERO Team, CARE International in Burundi.
Iredale, J. (2007). Draft report on the analysis of the Study on
Empowerment, UMWIZERO project. CARE International in Burundi.
Ntabahungu, J. (2007). Rapport de la définition de l’empowerment
dans le contexte local réalisé dans les communes de Gihanga,
Mpanda, Mutimbuzi, Makebuko et Giheta, pour le programme
Kirumara. Kirumara Team CARE International in Burundi.
Iredale, J. and Ntacobakimvuna, D. (2009). Le travail de CARE
Burundi sur l’empowerment des femmes – une réflexion. Program
Learning and Quality Team, CARE International in Burundi.