What is a good life? Selecting capabilities to assess women's quality of life in rural Malawi.


Greco, G; Skordis-Worrall, J; Mkandawire, B; Mills, A; (2015) What is a good life? Selecting capabilities to assess women's quality of life in rural Malawi. Social science & medicine (1982), 130C. pp. 69-78. ISSN 0277-9536 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.01.042

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Abstract

There is growing interest in using Sen's Capability Approach to assess quality of life and to evaluate social policies. This paper describes the formative stages of developing a quality of life measure: the selection of the relevant capabilities. This measure is intended to provide a more comprehensive outcome measure for the evaluation of complex interventions such as Maimwana womens' groups, a community based participatory intervention to improve maternal health in rural Malawi. Fifteen focus group discussions with 129 women were conducted to explore relevant concepts of quality of life in rural Malawi. Data collection started in October 2009. Findings were elicited based on framework analysis. The findings portray a complex and highly nuanced perception that women in rural Malawi have of their life and wellbeing. Quality of life was described using a variety of dimensions that are highly interconnected. Quality of life emerges to be not only shaped by the realisation of basic material needs such as being sufficiently nourished and adequately sheltered, but is also highly dependent on complex feelings, relations and social norms. The full exposition of wellbeing with its domains was organised into a framework constituting six different spheres of wellbeing: physical strength, inner wellbeing, household wellbeing, community relations, economic security and happiness. Despite the list being developed in a specific context and for a specific group of people, the similarities with lists developed in other contexts, with different methods and for different purposes, are considerable. This suggests that there are a number of core aspects of wellbeing considered a minimum requirement for a life of human dignity, that should be included in any attempt to assess quality of life and human development across populations.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Academic Services & Administration > Academic Administration
Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Global Health and Development
Research Centre: Centre for Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH)
Maternal Health Group
PubMed ID: 25687242
Web of Science ID: 351785500009
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/2115570

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