Field Implementation Issues

Translating gender-assets data methodology to the field can be challenging. It is imperative that researchers prepare themselves for several potential questions and issues that can arise in order to ensure that data collection goes smoothly. There may also be resistance, often from funders, against the complexity and costs of these types of surveys.   Researchers must be ready to justify the increased complexity in terms of the wealth of insights gained. Again, it is important that researchers and fieldworkers adapt their collection strategy to the culture-context. In this section, we draw from interviews with experienced researchers and highlight some of the main questions and issues that can arise as well as provide solutions before getting out in the field.  For more detailed information about field implementation issues see the Methods section of the Gender and Assets Toolkit.

  • Identifying who in the household should be interviewed:  Should it be the “head of household” as is the case in many surveys? Should the head of household answer for all household members or should multiple household members be interviewed? Different people in the household will have access to different types of information and/or have different perspectives and thus will report different things. It is important to think strategically about which types of household members will be able to best provide necessary information.
  • Maintaining privacy of responses:  This is particularly important for asset issues which may be sensitive. It is possible that household members—particularly women—will have hidden assets that other in the household will not know about.
  • Selecting who will be doing the data collection:  In some contexts respondents may be more comfortable with same sex interviewers while in other contexts they may actually be more comfortable with an interviewer of the opposite sex, or the gender of the interviewer may not be an issue at all. For example, Pakistan and Bangladesh surveys have teams of men and women; surveys in the Philippines almost always employ women due to trust and safety issues; surveys in Guatemala City employ women interviewers for safety issues; in many African contexts interviewers in surveys are men.
  • Adapting question style and format during the data collection process to, for example, participants’ level of education or method of valuation: In some studies, questions had to be adjusted (particularly in low-literacy populations) so that they could be understood by respondents.  Other fieldworkers found that respondents had difficulties valuing assets at present or recalling what they paid at acquisition.  To work around this issue, fieldworkers instead collected data on when the asset was acquired, what was paid upon acquisition, and current market value or replacement cost, using alternative methods of estimating the value of the asset.  In other contexts, the number (count) of the assets was collected instead of the value. In fact, these simpler methods of collecting gender-disaggregated assets data worked very well in the regressions.
  • Thinking longitudinally and tracking changes over time: New data collection efforts may want to be forward-looking in terms of creating the possibility of revisiting households to build up panel data sets on individual and joint asset accumulation. This means obtaining information with which to track households and individuals over time. This is essential, because new categories of assets emerge over time (for example, term insurance, new savings instruments, cellphones etc.) as well as new uses for incomes earned from assets. Furthermore, capturing changes in ownership and control of assets over time, especially as the relative value of assets change (land may become less important as incomes become more diversified, for example). Another study also pointed out the importance of updating the community questionnaire to capture changes in local facilities, institutions, and even cultural norms For example, the extent to which women can travel has expanded greatly over time, partly because of the need to go outside of the village for NGO training.