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Agency-Based Empowerment Interventions: Efforts to Enhance Decision-Making and Action in Health and Development

  • Anita ShankarEmail author
  • Siddhi Sundar
  • Genevieve Smith
Article
  • 190 Downloads

Abstract

This paper outlines the critical role of personal agency in influencing health and development outcomes and presents a framework for implementing non-therapeutic cognitive-behavioral interventions that foster agency, especially for women, in resource-poor settings. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has placed “empowerment” at the center of global targets, particularly to improve individuals’ health and development. Despite extensive research on individual and community empowerment, there is limited focus on the role of psychological and behavioral approaches directly fostering individual and collective agency in health programs. Fundamental to this process is the understanding that decision-making is an interaction between mental processes and one’s current context. Approaches that allow individuals to understand how their beliefs, values, emotions, and thoughts impact their behaviors and can be modulated to increase their personal agency are needed. This model is illustrated through a pilot behavioral intervention with women engaged in sex work in Pune, India, demonstrating substantive benefits.

Keywords

Women’s health Cognitive behavioral approaches Empowerment Development Personal agency 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Tejaswi Sevakari, Director of Saheli Sangh in Pune, India and a Certified Master Trainer in the Empowerment Workshop methodology (Empowerment Institute, USA) for her dedication and efforts on this work. Ms. Sevakari, who conducted the trainings, has generously provided information for the case study. We would also like to thank Mandakini Desale, program manager; Deepa Dandvate, social worker; Shakuntala Pawar, Ffounder and board member of Saheli Sangh; Mahadevi Madar, president of Saheli Sangh; and Meena Koil, secretary of Saheli Sangh for their dedication and untiring efforts for the women living and working in the red light district in Pune.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Bloomberg School of Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Washington, DCUSA

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