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

Article


Freeman, T., Miles, L., Ying, K., Mat Yasin, S. and Lai, W. 2021. At the limits of "capability": The sexual and reproductive health of women migrant workers in Malaysia. Sociology of Health & Illness. 45 (5), pp. 947-970. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13323
TypeArticle
TitleAt the limits of "capability": The sexual and reproductive health of women migrant workers in Malaysia
AuthorsFreeman, T., Miles, L., Ying, K., Mat Yasin, S. and Lai, W.
Abstract

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.

KeywordsCapability Approach; Women Migrant Workers; Malaysia; Sexual and Reproductive Health; Empowerment; Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health; Health Policy; Health (social science)
LanguageEnglish
PublisherWiley
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
ISSN0141-9889
Electronic1467-9566
Publication dates
Online06 Jul 2021
Print18 Jun 2023
Publication process dates
Submitted01 Jun 2020
Accepted02 Jun 2021
Deposited02 Jun 2021
Output statusPublished
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File Access Level
Open
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Restricted
Copyright Statement

© 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.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13323
Web of Science identifierWOS:000669904700001
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