At the limits of "capability": the sexual and reproductive health of women migrant workers in Malaysia

Freeman, Tim ORCID logoORCID:, Miles, Lilian ORCID logoORCID:, Ying, Kelvin, Mat Yasin, Suziana and Lai, Wan-Teng (2021) At the limits of "capability": the sexual and reproductive health of women migrant workers in Malaysia. Sociology of Health and Illness . ISSN 0141-9889 [Article] (Published online first) (doi:10.1111/1467-9566.13323)

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Despite the centrality of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), women migrant workers in Malaysia face an environment inimical to their SRH needs. Drawing on qualitative case study material, we present the first empirical application of the Capability Approach (CA) to explore the reproductive health needs of women migrant workers in a developing country, offering an original analysis of the capability for SRH of these women. Specifically, we explore the resources available to them; their opportunities and freedoms (‘capabilities’); and factors which mediate transformation of resources into capability sets (‘conversion factors’). While SRH information and healthcare is notionally available, women migrant workers face multiple challenges in converting resources into functionings, constraining the achievement of capability for SRH. Challenges include language barriers, personal beliefs, power relations between workers and employers and the consequences of current migration policy. We consider the scale of the challenges facing these women in securing SRH rights, the difficulties of operationalising the CA within such a setting, and the implications of our findings for the adequacy of the CA in supporting marginalised populations.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Capability Approach, Women Migrant Workers, Malaysia, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Empowerment
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 33350
Notes on copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Sociology of Health & Illness published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for SHIL (SHIL)
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Depositing User: Tim Freeman
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2021 14:58
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:48

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