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Health and the social power of women


  • MacCormack, Carol P.


The relationship between women's social status and the survival chances of their children is explained and illustrated with examples. When women (and girls) have low status, relatively little social investment is made in them, and this is reflected in girls' and boys' differential mortality rates. Several health-related social investment indicators are given, and matched against children's mortality patterns by ecological regions of Africa and Asia. The cultural propensity to invest in girls (nutrition, education, etc.) and their resultant survival chances, are explained by ecology which in past centuries has largely determined agricultural economies that either had a high demand for female labour or did not. In the former, women are more likely to control the wealth they produce and use it for transactions that put others in their social debt, thus growing in social power. Policy implications of planning and implementing primary health care in these different types of societies are explored.

Suggested Citation

  • MacCormack, Carol P., 1988. "Health and the social power of women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 26(7), pages 677-683, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:26:y:1988:i:7:p:677-683

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:oup:apecpp:v:39:y:2017:i:3:p:428-440. is not listed on IDEAS
    2. DeJong, Jocelyn, 1991. "Traditional medicine in sub-Saharan Africa : its importance and potential policy options," Policy Research Working Paper Series 735, The World Bank.
    3. Kundu, Amit & Mukherjee, Arghya Kusum, 2011. "Impact of Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojona on health, education and women empowerment," MPRA Paper 33258, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Jun 2011.

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