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Validating Measures of Reproductive Empowerment in Kenya

by on May 7, 2020

Validating Measures of Reproductive Empowerment in KenyaAlthough a substantial body of research has examined the role of empowerment in influencing reproductive outcomes, the reproductive sphere has only recently emerged as a distinct dimension of empowerment. Inconsistency in the conceptualization and measurement of reproductive empowerment (RE) has led to the use of a wide range of research measures on the determinants of reproductive behavior in relation to empowerment. We adopted the following definition of RE from a recently developed framework: “Both a transformative process and an outcome, whereby individuals expand their capacity to make informed decisions about their reproductive lives, amplify their ability to participate meaningfully in public and private discussions related to sexuality, reproductive health and fertility, and act on their preferences to achieve desired reproductive outcomes, free from violence, retribution or fear” (Edmeades, Hinson, Sebany, & Murithi, 2018).

MEASURE Evaluation—a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development—developed a draft RE scale using three steps. First, we conducted a systematic literature review to identify existing domains, subdomains, scales, and indexes related to RE. Second, through a consultative meeting, we shared our findings from the systematic review with experts in reproductive health (RH) and empowerment research and measurement, and sought their feedback on gaps and limitations in the field. Third, we conducted focus group discussions with men and women in Zambia to explore in depth the meaning of the identified domains and subdomains of RE, and to surface new domains and subdomains. At the end of this process, we prepared a draft RE scale with 44 items across five subscales. The next step in the development of the RE scale was to establish its face validity, the subject of this study. The objectives of this study were to (1) pretest the draft scale items using cognitive interviews (CIs) with women and men in Kenya to examine the items’ face validity; and (2) revise the draft RE scale based on the results of the CIs.

This report shares more on the work in Kenya.

Access the reproductive empowerment scale and related resources on work done in Nigeria and Zambia.

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