Empowering Women in Decision-Making that Improves Health Outcomes

Thursday, 10 July 2008: 3:15 PM
Melanie Brewer, DNSc, RN, FNP , Phoenix Children's Hospital/Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Erika Hand, MSW , Human Resources, Phoenix Children's Hospital, Phoenix, AZ

Learning Objective 1: Identify potential predictors of women’s health outcomes related to health education

Learning Objective 2: Discuss components of effective health education that positively impact decisions by at risk women and girls

Imagine this scenario: women of all races and cultures empowered to make decisions and effect change for their own health and development. These changes subsequently create significant and sustainable improvements in the health, wealth and well being of the empowered women, their families and their communities. This scenario is actually the only scenario that effectively addresses issues of poverty, abuse and early death prevalent in many countries. Studies have shown this outcome is only attainable by educating the young women in these countries.

Women's health issues have been shown to significantly improve when women are educated and provided with the tools to make constructive choices for themselves and their families. Family, meal and financial planning, self care, and involvement in their children's lives, significantly improve when decisions are made by women educated in these areas. When women are unable to make these decisions, the choices tend towards short term gratification, diminishing health and quality of life for women and children.

An evidence review increasingly showed that engaging mothers and daughters in education that fosters resilience, self-advocacy and communication strategies reduces threats to personal health and well-being, and increases the health and well-being of their families, and communities. Confidence in decision-making and problem-solving abilities is key to developing strong communities that provide the resources to prosper in today's world. In many cultures, rights and abilities of women have been ignored. Some religions link women to sin and lust. In other cultures, women are recognized and appreciated for their vital roles as mothers and nurturers of the next generation, and for their contributions to the health and well being of the larger community. Young women empowered with a sense of self-efficacy and motivation to achieve higher education continue to grow personally and professionally, and promote healthier outcomes for themselves and their families.