Development of a women’s empowerment index for Tanzania from the demographic and health surveys of 2004–05, 2010, and 2015–16

Andrew Evarist Mganga, Jenny Renju, Jim Todd, Michael Johnson Mahande & Seema Vyas
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Women’s empowerment is a multidimensional construct which varies by context. These variations make it challenging to have a concrete definition that can be measured quantitatively. Having a standard composite measure of empowerment at the individual and country level would help to assess how countries are progressing in efforts to achieve gender equality (SDG 5), enable standardization across and within settings and guide the formulation of policies and interventions. The aim of this study was to develop a women’s empowerment index for Tanzania and to assess its evolution across three demographic and health surveys from 2004 to 2016.


Women’s empowerment in Tanzania was categorized into six distinct domains namely; attitudes towards violence, decision making, social independence, age at critical life events, access to healthcare, and property ownership. The internal reliability of this six-domain model was shown to be acceptable by a Cronbach’s α value of 0.658. The fit statistics of the root mean squared error of approximation (0.05), the comparative fit index (0.93), and the standardized root mean squared residual (0.04) indicated good internal validity. The structure of women’s empowerment was observed to have remained relatively constant across three Tanzanian demographic and health surveys.


The use of factor analysis in this research has shown that women’s empowerment in Tanzania is a six-domain construct that has remained relatively constant over the past ten years. This could be a stepping stone to reducing ambiguity in conceptualizing and operationalizing empowerment and expanding its applications in empirical research to study different women related outcomes in Tanzania.