TitleEmpowerment in Rural Viet Nam: Exploring Changes in Mothers and Health Volunteers in the Context of an Integrated Nutrition Project
AuthorsHendrickson J. L., Dearden K., Pachon H., An N. H., Schroeder D. G., Marsh D. R.
PublicationFood Nutr Bull. 2002 Dec; 23(4 Suppl):86-94.
AbstractEmpowerment is often cited as a fundamental component of health promotion strategies. Anecdotes suggest that Save the Children's integrated nutrition project empowers local women and health volunteers. The aim of this research was to document the degree to which this is being accomplished. Using qualitative methodologies, we conducted a cross-sectional assessment to compare self-reported changes in identified empowerment domains among 17 program health volunteers and 20 mothers involved in a child nutrition intervention and among five Women's Union leaders and five mothers in a non-intervention comparison commune. Intervention mothers reported increased knowledge, confidence, and information sharing about child-care and feeding, while non-intervention mothers reported minimal changes in these domains. Both intervention health volunteers and non-intervention Women's Union leaders expressed improvements in knowledge, confidence, and relationships with community members. In this study we found that the relative increases in empowerment were greater for mothers than for health volunteers. Intervention mothers reported more sharing of information on child care with neighbors. Health volunteers developed closer relationships with community members than Women's Union leaders. The increased information sharing has positive implications for spread of key messages to families that did not directly participate in intensive feeding and the sustainability of the intervention's impact. Future research should focus on developing culturally specific concepts of empowerment to better understand the effects of empowerment efforts. This study's identification of empowerment domains will inform future empowerment studies in Vietnam.