The most important component of the project is the fieldwork. Fieldwork will take place in six countries in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific: Angola, Fiji, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Philippines. The fieldwork seeks to bring the voices least heard in the debate over poverty measurement ‑ those of poor men and women ‑ to the fore of discussions about how poverty ought to be measured. The fieldwork will illuminate how men and women assess poverty and its gendered aspects.
The fieldwork will also collect information about dimensions that are relevant to assessing gender equality for poor men and women, to inform work towards a composite gender equality metric that is more sensitive to changes in the situation of poor men and women. Currently the main gender equality metrics are biased toward the better off. This is true of the Gender-related Development Index, which uses per-capita income, and the Gender Empowerment Measure, which uses parliamentary representation and representation in senior positions as indicators of empowerment. Existing indices also calculate gender equity across populations, and are insensitive to distributions of gender inequality among groups, including economic groups (say, the poor) but also other groups characterized by ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion, class, or geographic location.
The fieldwork will involve inductive, rights-based, participatory research. Inductive research seeks to learn from participants rather than seek to verify or test specific hypotheses with participants. Rights-based research privileges the rights of participants and other relevant stakeholders. Protecting the rights of participants will be of the highest priority, from careful processes of informed consent, to thorough preparation that avoids wasting poor people’s time, and providing research outcomes and findings to the communities involved, as one way of valuing their knowledge and contribution and providing them with information they can use in advocacy or other efforts to claim their rights and entitlements from governments and others,.
While the research questions and methods in the first phase are derived from a thorough, critical analysis of the existing literature on poverty measurement, gender, and development, the research will be participatory in so far as participants will provide all of the content for data analysis. The second and third phases of the fieldwork will be significantly shaped by the information shared by participants in preceding stages.
Selection of Sites and Participants
In most countries, there will be three fieldwork sites: one urban, one rural, and one marginalized community (such as an ethnic or religious minority). Participants will be individuals from a diverse set of social locations, of different ages, familial situations, professions, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and other life circumstances. For all group methods, participants will be grouped by age and gender. This will reduce, though not eliminate, pressures arriving from social difference that might silence some participants or constrain the free sharing of ideas, particularly about those deprivations which are particularly gendered or age-specific.
Methods and Questions
The first phase of fieldwork will use six methods. Key informant interviews, guided group discussions, poverty ladder construction, dimension identification and ranking, household mapping, and in depth individual interviews. These methods will focus on exploring participants’ views surrounding some of the key questions in poverty measurement, to understand how participants think of and evaluate poverty, how (and whether) participants view poverty as gendered, and what preferences participants have in relation to dimensions of deprivation.