Skip to main content
Caregiver Resource:


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. The questionnaires for both women and men collect data on the percentage of all women and men who agree that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife for specific reasons. An index of empowerment is developed based on opinions on the number of reasons that justify wife-beating. The ranking of women on these indices can be related to selected demographic and health outcomes.

This is measured as the percentage of currently married women, ages 15–49, who disagree with all of the specific reasons justifying wife-beating.

Scoring and Interpretation

Scored as a categorical variable (an accepting attitude or not accepting attitude). An answer of “Yes” for at least one item is interpreted as an accepting attitude toward domestic violence.


Kishor, S., and L. Subaiya. 2008. Understanding Women’s Empowerment: A Comparative Analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Data. DHS Comparative Reports No. 20. Calverton, Maryland, USA: Macro International Inc.

Contexts and Applications to Child Nutrition

Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria; Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda Zimbabwe

Na, Muzi, Larissa Jennings, Sameera A Talegawkar, and Saifuddin Ahmed. 2015. “Association between Women’s Empowerment and Infant and Child Feeding Practices in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys.” Public Health Nutrition 18(17): 3155–65.


Essilfie, Gloria, Joshua Sebu, and Samuel Kobina Annim. 2020. "Women's Empowerment and Child Health Outcomes in Ghana." African Development Review 32(2): 200-215.

Lao PDR 

Kamiya, Yusuke, Marika Nomura, Hina Ogino, Kanako Yoshikawa, Latsamy Siengsounthone, and Phonepadith Xangsayarath. 2018. "Mothers’ Autonomy and Childhood Stunting: Evidence from Semi-urban Communities in Lao PDR." BMC Women's Health 18 (1): 1-9.


Chilinda, Zizwani Brian, Mark L. Wahlqvist, Meei-Shyuan Lee, and Yi-Chen Huang. 2021. "Higher Maternal Autonomy is Associated with Reduced Child Stunting in Malawi." Scientific Reports 11, no. 1: 1-12.


Agu, Ngozichukwuka, Nnadozie Emechebe, Korede Yusuf, Oluyemisi Falope, and Russell S. Kirby. 2019. "Predictors of Early Childhood Undernutrition in Nigeria: The Role of Maternal Autonomy." Public Health Nutrition 22(12) 2279-2289.

Tanzania and Uganda 

Jones, Rebecca, Regine Haardörfer, Usha Ramakrishnan, Kathryn M. Yount, Stephanie Miedema, and Amy Webb Girard. 2019. "Women's Empowerment and Child Nutrition: The Role of Intrinsic Agency." SSM-Population Health 9: 100475.


Ickes, Scott B., Taylor E. Hurst, and Valerie L. Flax. 2015. "Maternal Literacy, Facility Birth, and Education Are Positively Associated with Better Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices and Nutritional Status Among Ugandan Children." The Journal of Nutrition 145(11): 2578-2586.

Global (28 countries globally) 

Heaton, Tim B. 2015. "Are Improvements in Child Health Due to Increasing Status of Women in Developing Nations?" Biodemography and Social Biology 61(3): 252-265.



Formative Research 


Psychometric Characteristics


Content Not Available
Criterion Not Available
Construct Not Available


Internal consistency Not Available
Test-retest reliability Not Available
Inter-rater reliability Not Available