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Assessing married men and women's understanding of questions from a gender and power norms scale in Siaya, Kenya

Smith, Danielle Nicole (2011)
Master's Thesis (82 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Stephenson, Robert
Committee Members: Rochat, Roger
Research Fields: Health Sciences, Public Health; Gender Studies
Partnering Agencies: International Non-governmental organization (e.g., CARE, Inc.) ; Emory University schools, faculty or affiliated programs
Keywords: measuring gender norms; cognitive interviewing; Kenya
Program: Rollins School of Public Health, Hubert Department of Global Health
Permanent url:


Background: In 2009, CARE International conducted the Social Influences on Family
Planning survey in Siaya, Kenya. One component of the survey was a gender and power
norms scale that was a novel combination of two previously validated scales. There is a
body of research to suggest that gender and power norms impact reproductive health and
therefore increased desire to quantitatively measure gender norms for programmatic
Objective: The purpose of this study was 1) to evaluate understanding of questions from
the CARE gender norms scale to improve the scale for future use and 2) to explore the
perceived gender and power norms in Siaya, Kenya.
Methods: Eighteen cognitive interviews (8 with men, 10 with women) were conducted to
evaluate understanding of the questions from the scale. Nine focus group discussions (3
with men, 3 with women, and 3 with elders) were conducted to understand the gender
and power norms present in Siaya.
Results: Interpretations of questions from the scale could be classified into 5 categories:
understood as intended (5 questions); misunderstanding of a single word or phrase (3);
misunderstanding due to conditionality of the question (1); misunderstanding due to
wording/translation (1); and conceptual misunderstanding (4). Conceptual
misunderstandings of questions differed for men and women, and this seemed to be due
to underlying gender norms. Questions were difficult for participants to understand if
they did not fit the expected gender roles in the community. For example, women easily
understood the question "My partner has more say than I do about important decisions
that affect us", because gender norms encourage male decision-making power. This
question was difficult for male participants, however, because imagining their partners
(women) with more decision-making power defied community norms.
Discussion: While the CARE gender norms scale was well understood overall, data
suggest several revisions to improve question understanding. In particular, community
gender norms influenced how people interpreted questions from the scale and resulted in
misunderstanding of several questions. Examining participants' interpretations of
questions and considering the impact of community norms on question interpretation
revealed ways to improve the gender and power norms scale for use in Siaya, Kenya.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Introduction - 1
Chapter 2. Comprehensive Review of the Literature - 7
Chapter 3. Project Contents
Methods - 27
Results - 35
Chapter 4. Discussion, Recommendations, and Conclusion

Discussion - 58
Recommendations - 64
Conclusion - 65
References - 68
Appendix I: CARE Gender and Power Norms Scale - 73
Appendix II: CARE Approval Letter - 75


application/pdf Dissertation/Thesis 82 pages (1.9 MB) [Access copy of Dissertation/Thesis]
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