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Gender attitudes refers to views held by individuals regarding the roles that men and women and boys and girls should play in society. The positive relationship between gender-equitable attitudes and numerous health issues is well established;1,2 the relationship to child health, nutrition, and development is increasingly examined. For example, research in Zimbabwe found that caregivers with more equitable gender norm attitudes were more likely to exclusively breastfeed children and have better nourished children.3,4 Gender attitudes are sometimes included as an element of women’s empowerment or intrinsic agency.5

The gender attitudes of caregivers can be assessed through use of well-validated scales such as the Gender Norms Attitudes scale.6 Another option to assess gender attitudes is through the standardized question on women’s attitudes toward domestic violence in specific situations. The population-based Demographic Health Survey (DHS) includes this question in a women’s empowerment module. With the accessibility of these population-based data on attitudes toward domestic violence, many studies have examined the relationship to child nutrition. Some researchers have used caregivers’ attitudes toward domestic violence as a proxy for other resources, such as autonomy and self-esteem. See WHO's guide on Ethical and safety recommendations for intervention research on violence against women to put safety first.


  • Gender Norms Attitude scale (10 items)
  • Gender Equitable Men scale (24 items)
  • DHS Women’s Empowerment module: Attitudes toward wife-beating (5 items)
  • MICS Domestic Violence module: Attitudes toward domestic violence (5 items)

This toolkit includes 4 measures.

Gender Norm Attitudes Scale

Zimbabwe 14 items

Gender attitudes refers to views held by individuals regarding the roles that men and women and boys and girls should play in society.

Gender Equitable Men (GEM) Scale

Zimbabwe 24 items

To measure attitudes toward gender norms in intimate relationships or differing social expectations for men and women through two subscales: equitable and inequitable norms.

DHS Women’s Empowerment Module: Attitudes Toward Wife-Beating Scale

BeninBurkina FasoEthiopiaKenyaMaliNigerNigeriaRwandaSierra LeoneUgandaZimbabwe 5 items

The Demographic Health Survey (DHS) includes a module on women’s empowerment. DHS are nationally-representative household surveys that provide data on population, health, and nutrition.

Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS): Attitudes Toward Wife-Beating Scale

Lao People’s Democratic Republic 5 items

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) are household surveys to provide internationally comparable, statistically rigorous data on the situation of children and women.

1 Pulerwitz, Julie and Gary Barker. 2008. “Measuring Attitudes toward Gender Norms among Young Men in Brazil: Development and Psychometric Evaluation of the GEM Scale." Men and Masculinities, 10:3322-338. JMM298778.qxd (
2 Stark Lindsay, Seff, Ilana, Weber, Ann, and Gary L Darmstadt. 2020. “Applying a gender lens to global health and well-being: Framing a Journal of Global Health special collection.” J Glob Health, 10(1):010103.
3 Joice Tome, Mduduzi N. N. Mbuya, Rachel R. Makasi, Robert Ntozini, Andrew J. Prendergast, Katherine L. Dickin, Gretel H. Pelto, Mark A. Constas, Lawrence H. Moulton, Rebecca J. Stoltzfus, Jean H. Humphrey, and Cynthia R. Matare. 2020. "Maternal caregiving capabilities are associated with child linear growth in rural Zimbabwe." Maternal & Child Nutrition, 17:2.
4 Mduduzi N N Mbuya, Cynthia R Matare, Naume V Tavengwa, Bernard Chasekwa, Robert Ntozini, Florence D Majo, Ancikaria Chigumira, Cynthia M Z Chasokela, Andrew J Prendergast, Lawrence H Moulton, Rebecca J Stoltzfus, Jean H Humphrey, and The SHINE Trial Team. 2019. "Early Initiation and Exclusivity of Breastfeeding in Rural Zimbabwe: Impact of a Breastfeeding Intervention Delivered by Village Health Workers." Curr Dev Nutr, 28;3(4):nzy092.
5 Malapit, Hazel, Quisumbing, Agnes, Meinzen-Dick, Ruth, Seymour, Greg, Martinez, Elena M., Heckert, Jessica, Rubin, Deborah, Vaz, Ana and Kathryn M. Yount. 2020. “Development of the project-level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (pro-WEAI).” World Development, 122:675-692.
6 Nanda, Geeta. 2011. "Compendium of Gender Scales." Washington, DC: FHI 360/C-Change.