Measuring empowerment? Ask them: Quantifying qualitative outcomes from people’s own analysis

This paper, written by Dee Jupp and Sohel Ibn Ali with contribution from  Carlos Barahona for Sida, uses the experiences of a social movement in Bangladesh to demonstrate how empowerment can be measured by those who are being empowered.

The paper argues that transparency, rigour and reliability can still exist in community-led approaches to monitoring and evaluation. 


"This publication suggests that steps in the process of attainment of rights and the process of empowerment are easy to identify and measure for those active in the struggle to achieve them. It is our etic perspectives that make the whole thing difficult. When we apply normative frames of reference, we inevitably impose our values and our notions of democracy and citizen engagement rather than embracing people’s own context-based experience of empowerment.

This paper presents the experience of one social movement in Bangladesh, which managed to find a way to measure empowerment by letting the members themselves explain what benefits they acquired from the Movement and by developing a means to measure change over time. These measures, which are primarily of use to the members, have then been subjected to numerical analysis outside of the village environment to provide convincing quantitative data, which satisfies the demands of results-based management."


  • Introduction 19
  • The Problem of Measuring Empowerment 28
  • The Challenge for Social Movements 40
  • The Evolution of this Empowerment Measuring Tool 42
  • How this Monitoring Tool Works 53
  • Using the Empowerment Monitoring Tool 57
  • Facing the Challenges 75
  • Applying the Approach to Your Programme 87
  • Lessons Learned 94


Dee Jupp, Sohel Ibn Ali and Carlos Barahona (2011). Measuring Empowerment? Ask Them: Quantifying qualitative outcomes from people's own analysis. Sida. Retrieved from:

'Measuring empowerment? Ask them: Quantifying qualitative outcomes from people’s own analysis' is referenced in: