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Phase II

The objective in Phase II is to document and analyze how Muslim families in these four countries articulate the impact of these changes through in-depth interviews (June 2014-August 2014) and survey questionnaires (June 2015-August 2015) of families.

In this section we describe the qualitative methodology for the first part of the data collection.


south_asia_mapIn addition to questions of regional variations in these four countries, the decision of which states or regions to conduct fieldwork in was influenced by the students who were conducting fieldwork.  The reasons to select areas based on where the students were due to safety, financial, and logistical concerns and convenience. During the summer term, the students would then return to their home countries and home villages/towns and do the data collection. In this selection, geographic location was considered so as to represent the north and south of each country. The following table illustrates the regions/states/areas that were selected for the study in each country.


Country State/region/area
Afghanistan Kabul
Bangladesh Dhaka and Chittagong
India Kerala and Jharkhand
Pakistan Islamabad, Rawalpindi, and Gilgit from the north Karachi from the south


The method of participant recruitment for in-depth interviews involved purposive and snowball sampling.  The study population of the study are all families that have at least one woman over the age of 18 who has educational and/or employment experience, who is seen as the primary respondent.  Two other members of her family were also interviewed, where at least one of the secondary respondents needed to be a male member.  Families were defined in terms of relationships by marriage, birth and/or adoption.

Designing the Questionnaire

The extensive literature review generated from this phase was what influenced the nature and design of the qualitative field questionnaire. In the study, we first employed a qualitative methodology, which made no assumptions on the impact of change. Qualitative data was collected through in-depth exploratory interviews to understand what changes have taken place in women’s and men’s lives, as well as explore the kinds of perceptions different groups have regarding the expanding opportunity structures.  This data will, subsequently, be used to adapt a standardised questionnaire for use in a larger survey, so that we are able to document, describe and analyze the perceptions, changes and responses in a manner that will be generalizable and systematic.

The questionnaire was based on the key research questions and additional sections were added to the questionnaire based on findings of the literature review. These included a few questions on violence against women and impact of media. The draft questionnaire was then reviewed by an expert panel of Advisors to the Study (scholars) with extensive experience in gender studies, women, development, and violence against women). Based on their comments, the questionnaire was revised. The team of research assistants employed to do the literature review also reviewed the questionnaire and it went through another stage of revisions.

The questionnaire was subsequently translated to 5 languages by the team of research assistants. The languages were Bengali, Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu and Dari.  A panel of native speakers of the above languages from within AUW then checked the translated questionnaires for accuracy, clarity, intention and meaning of questions, and simplicity. Thought was also given to the respondent group who would represent be socio-economic, gender, and age diversities of each country and region.

The questionnaire was then pre-tested at two levels. The students selected two or three students from AUW and conducted mock-interviews and the PIs carried out mock interviews among themselves. Based on these interviews, the questionnaire was appropriately amended. Hence, the process to finalise the qualitative questionnaire was rigorous and meticulous.

For the qualitative part of Phase II, sampling was based on non-probability sampling methods of purposive and quota sampling. Selection of families was based on 1) accessibility of our students and faculty to communities in the five countries and 2) ensuring that for each country, our samples are representative in terms of socio-economic backgrounds, rural and urban backgrounds, gender, as well as ethnicities and family structures (nuclear, joint, etc).

For each country, research assistants were asked to interview 30 Muslim families, with family members being interviewed separately to ensure greater validity and reliability, as well as to respect ethical issues of confidentiality and no harm.  Within each family, three family members were targeted to be interviewed to give us a total of 90 in-depth interviews from each country. Families were selected to represent socio-economic diversity as well as diversity of experience (role and type of families). The primary respondent was always a female who had some form of education and/or employment experience. Education included both formal and informal education and employment included working outside the home or from home for an income.


The fieldwork team of 14 students were given an intensive 8 day training by the Principal Investigators in May 2014. These included full day theoretical and practical sessions, workshops, discussions, and practical work such as reflective activities and role play. The training programme included an introduction to qualitative research, in-depth interviews, objectivity and partiality, communication skills, probing techniques, ethical research, translations, sampling, budget keeping, data recording using a recorder, dilemmas in the field, getting support, handling emotional crises in self and others, reporting, and systematic recording of field data. There was also a key area on reducing bias, minimising harm and distress, confidentiality, informed consent, handling emergencies, and aspects of building an interview relationship and conducting an interview.

The Pakistani Team of Research Assistants and Principal Investigator Varuni Ganepola in Islamabad.

The Pakistani Team of Research Assistants and Principal Investigator Varuni Ganepola in Islamabad.

Training Session of Research Assistants in Thodupuzha, Kerala

Training Session of Research Assistants in Thodupuzha, Kerala

The India Team of Research Assistants and Principal Investigators Faheem Hussain and Sara Amin in Thodupuzha, Kerala

The India Team of Research Assistants and Principal Investigators Faheem Hussain and Sara Amin in Thodupuzha, Kerala










The training included sessions in each country of the research study with the selected male research assistants who partnered with the AUW research assistants to carry out the fieldwork. The male research assistants were recommended by the AUW research assistants through personal connections and the PIs did the final selection based on their experience, skills, and availability. Three male RAs were selected from each country. They also underwent rigorous training in their countries in June and these training sessions were conducted by an individual PI in each country. In Afghanistan, the training took place via Skype and the AUW field assistants themselves as the political situation was not conducive to a foreigner entering Kabul during the planned time of research training. In India, two PIs conducted the training in Thodupuzha (Kerala) and in Pakistan the training took place in Islamabad. In Bangladesh, the training of the male research assistants happened concurrently with the AUW RAs in May. At the end of the training, a certificate of completion was awarded to each participant.

The qualitative field interviews took place between June and August 2014 in all four countries. The PIs also conducted several key informant interviews in all four countries. These included government and non-government officials working in the areas of women, education, and employment.

At the end of each fieldwork interview, the RAs took down detailed notes and wrote their observations. They sent Weekly Reports to the PIs on a given format (attached as Annex 1) which they emailed each week. The RAs also kept log sheets of expenditure and a journal where they wrote down their personal fieldwork experience. Every family that was interviewed was compensated for their time and information through a small token of appreciation. This was usually in the form of stationery.

All interview data was recorded (where permitted) and transferred to a computer by the RAs. The transferred data was then transcribed and subsequently translated to English. This work was done by both the RAs and their male research assistants/partners in the countries where they worked. This process took approximately 6 months to complete.

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