145545 Influences of women's empowerment on health across generations in Bangladesh

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 2:30 PM

Sidney Ruth Schuler, PhD , Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC
The empowerment of women has been widely acknowledged as an important goal in international health and development. If women's empowerment truly is an important factor with the potential to influence health and social outcomes, then it should be possible to see the effects of empowerment extend over time and resonate across generations, especially within the family, yet few studies have examined this. This study explores the socio-cultural processes through which women's empowerment affects the health of subsequent generations of women and those through which cross-generational influences may be thwarted. Quantitative analyses of 1994/2002 survey data from 6 villages in Bangladesh provided inconclusive evidence regarding the potential for empowerment to have a positive influence on the health and well-being of the next generation of women. In light of these findings, in-depth, ethnographic interviews were conducted in two villages with two types of triads of women: 1) young women who married outside of the primary study sites, a population normally lost to community studies, and their mothers and mothers-in-law; and 2) young brides who married into the primary study sites, their mothers-in-law and their mothers (who will be traced and interviewed in their own villages of residence). This paper will present preliminary findings regarding the evolving dimensions and meanings of women's empowerment and the influence of empowerment on two closely-related outcomes influencing women's health and well-being: age at marriage and age at initiation of childbearing.

Learning Objectives:
1. Understand the limitations of commonly used empowerment indicators. 2. Describe several mechanisms through which empowered women influence the next generation of women

Keywords: Women's Health, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.