Lack of reproductive health constitutes a significant deficiency in well-being in developing countries, yet is often marginalised within development studies. This paper asks whether applying Amartya Sen’s capabilities framework to reproductive health may provide one means of bridging this gap and advantages over prevailing approaches based on Disability Adjusted Life Years or reproductive rights. It draws on analysis of three reproductive health problems, namely obstetric fistulae, maternal mortality and female genital mutilation and argues that the capabilities approach offers an opportunity to address the social bases of health and one class of societal claims to social justice, but that there are methodological and other challenges to operationalising this approach.
DeJong, J. Capabilities, Reproductive Health and Well-being. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK (2004) 42 pp. [Originally presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003]