Measures of Progress

The Department of Women and Children is always in search of empowerment. While the minimum level of empowerment has been defined in subjective terms, objective measures and scales have been left to evaluators. Evaluation studies are to be conducted every five years, more or less.

A rather proximate measure of empowerment has been devised so that progress is also known in the interim. The achievement index, as it is called, is made up of seven quantitative indicators: accumulation, ownership, cash flow towards the member, resource mobilisation, assemblage, association of the new generation and, of course, participation.

On a scale from 0 to 100, the index captures instrumental changes of programmatic interventions. A score of 75 or above means that considerable progress has been made in empowering the target group at least up to the defined level while that of 30 or below means little or nothing. Many of the active women's co-operatives promoted by the Department are currently faring slightly above the achievement threshold of 60. Given the additive property of its indicators, the measure can be used for benchmarking and several other purposes, too.

Another rough-and-ready measure being widely used by facilitators in the field is the agency index. Action, concern, contact, adoption and experimentation are the five factors that go into making this qualitative yardstick of individual or collective initiative. The scale values range from five to 25.

A woman who is engaged in the process of empowerment remains 'patient' until she scores 11 or less. In order to be called 'agent', she will have to score 19 or more. One who scores 12 to 18 in between is labelled 'participant'. The agency score of a group or a co-operative can also be calculated and interpreted likewise.

The achievement and agency indices look similar in many respects. There are differences between the two, however. Perhaps the most important one is that the achievement index attests success while the agency index predicts success.