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Empowering Homeless Women

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The University of Auckland School of Population Health Health Promotion Theory and Models POPLHLTH 733 Glenn Laverack Assignment 1 The female residents of a rooming house complained of men demanding favours and money in exchange for letting them gain access to the communal bathroom. The women decided to ask the assistance of a health promoter. As the health promoter what would you do to empower these women? Student ID: 3613582 Word requirement: 3,000 Word count: 2,924 Due: 16th April 2007 Submitted: 13th April 2007 Introduction Ronald Labonte (2001) shares a scenario where a group of women living in a boarding house complain that the male residents are asking for sexual favours before allowing the women to use the bathroom. The women approach a community health worker seeking assistance and she supports them in advocating for improved dignity and safety. From this beginning, a small group forms and the women begin to meet weekly to share their burdens, identify their strengths and plan collective actions. Laverack (2004) uses the same case study, identifying how the practitioner agreed to mentor the women and support them in building their personal power. I have recently been approached by a group of women in a similar situation, where the male residents of their rooming house are demanding favours and money before allowing the women to use the bathroom. In this paper, I will consider the issues that must be addressed and the approach that I will take to support these women. ...read more.


Fetterman & Wandersman (2005) suggest 10 principles to guide empowerment evaluation, the evaluation should: * improve practice; * be owned by the community; * involve all stakeholders; * be a democratic process; * support social justice; * respect community knowledge; * be linked to the evidence base; * be accountable; * build organisational knowledge; * build skills and knowledge within the community. These principles must underpin the evaluation in order to ensure that the evaluation supports our process. Indicators must be developed to measure any changes in wellness or quality of life. Laverack (2004) discusses empowerment indicators and how they can be used to measure changes in the various empowerment domains. He uses Empowerment Assessment Rating Scales to rank where a group or community places itself on a five point scale (see Figure 4) for each of the nine empowerment domains. Laverack suggests working with the group or community to assign ranks to each of the nine empowerment domains at various points over the life of a programme. This will allow changes to be measured and represented in a manner that means something to those involved. Raeburn & Rootman (1998) present subjective measures of health and wellbeing as a useful means of considering the effectiveness of a health promotion programme. They suggest that using an "Impact Questionnaire" will provide a useful measure in considering how people rate their health and wellbeing, how they rated this before the programme, if there has been any changes and whether they attribute these to the programme and, finally, how satisfied are they with the programme. ...read more.


The process I have outlined here is a guide as to how I might work with the group of women. It is important to remember that if the process is to be truly empowering then much of it must be led by the group. I can present a framework for action but it is up to them as to the direction they take and the level of their commitment and participation. It is also important to recognise that not everyone will continue in the process to the end (if indeed it reaches the end point I have suggested), that is not a mark of failure but of the different needs and aspirations of the women involved. Measuring success, or lack of it, must be integral to the health promotion process and as such an evaluation path also needs to be considered in this process. This would also involve working with the women to develop an approach that embraces the principles of Fetterman & Wandersman (2005) and the methods of Raeburn & Rootman (1998) and Laverack (2004). Summary In summary, to support the women in increasing their levels of personal and group power, I would: * consider my own power and its impact on the group; * work with supportive colleagues to bring a women-focused approach to empowerment; * utilise Laverack's community empowerment continuum and domains of empowerment to plan our actions; * work with the women to set our objectives and measure these using an appropriate evaluation framework; * maintain an awareness of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion and Te Tiriti o Waitangi throughout the process. ...read more.

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