In recent decades, women's equity has been increasingly recognized as a crucial component of achieving countless health and development objectives. Disparities in educational access, economic opportunities and the overall relative low status of women shape women's ability to control their health and their futures. Improving women's agency is essential for improving development throughout the world.
Women's empowerment expands the freedom of choice action to shape women's lives. Additionally, women empowerment envisages greater access to knowledge, social and economic resources and greater participation in economic and political decision-making processes. However, evidence shows that women lag behind men in many aspects of development such as education, employment, social and political power and exposure to the media.
Studies have shown that seeking health information empowers women to promote their self-confidence, filter the information, manage life problems successfully, feel strength against health problems and disabilities, and be encouraged to seek more information.
There are several indicators to measure the empowerment of women. Health seeking information is one of the most important indicators in this regard. Women's education had a significant impact on women's empowerment in deciding women's own healthcare, deciding child healthcare, purchasing large households items and visiting relatives.
Seeking health information can promote health knowledge and consequently formulate the judgments, beliefs and acquisition of adequate knowledge for identifying the alternatives and available resources. Therefore, it is necessary to empower patients toward acquiring, processing and understanding their basic health information.
The Third Millennium Development Goal and the World Bank's World Development Report of 2012 detailed global commitments to promoting gender equality, empowering women and encouraging development. However, there are significant barriers to achieving these goals. Additional government efforts should be made to enhance the employment of women and should encourage women to participate in NGO activities.
Special awareness programs should be introduced for rural women to improve their economic status, to increase their educational level and to participate in their household's decision which will overall improve their empowerment.
The author is a contributor of The University News
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