Gender, Reproductive Health, and Climate Change: Freedom to Sustainable Development? A case study on the needs for, and challenges with implementing a Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) project in Western Kenya

Anne Louise Bjørn Strøh

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Within an overall framework of sustainable development, and exemplified through an ethnographic empirical-based case study of a human rights-based “Population, Health and Environment” (PHE) development project implemented in two rural communities in western Kenya, this master thesis sets out to examine the needs for and implementational challenges with taking an integrated and rights-based approach to development by seeking out the how’s and the why’s, as inspired by the anthropologist David Mosse (2005); How and why do challenges with 1) achieving PHE-related wellbeing and 2) implementing the rights-based PHE project arise? Based on the hypothesis that challenges arise when implementing a such project due to the novelty and complex realm hereof, this thesis analytically investigates the above-mentioned questions through four steps. Informed by welfare economist Amartya Sen’s (1999) theoretical framework and a capability approach to development, a list of SRHR- and agriculture/environment-related valuable PHE capabilities for the people for whom a PHE project is supposed to bring positive change are deduced firstly, based on secondary literature. Secondly, the contextual unfreedoms, to paraphrase Sen, which people experience in relation to their agricultural/environmental- and especially their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)-related freedoms are scrutinised. Thereafter, the types of and reasons for challenges faced by the practitioners in relation to implementing a rights-based PHE project are critically analysed. Lastly, in a wider and global perspective, it is briefly discussed if and why a disconnect can be detected between what is perceived as “good policy” (rights-based approach), and what is actually implementable in local contexts where especially SRHR-related rights are talked of and perceived differently than in the global development agendas. It is deduced that the complex nexus between an increased risk of climate change effects, corrupt institutions, deprivation of livelihood opportunities and free and safe access to SRHR, as well as culturally based gender-divided traditions are especially detrimental for women’s development opportunities. Furthermore, a final (non-exhaustive) set of nine implementational challenges is deduced and presented. And, additionally, and on a wider global political scale, neo-colonial and unequal global power relations are found to possibly be at risk of warping the rights-based sustainable development agenda and appertaining eradication of inequality, poverty and climate change-induced insecurity. The findings are based on qualitative data consisting of observations of and interviews regarding the needs for and challenges with rights-based PHE implementation as mainly analysed based on the articulations and actions of the practitioners, conducted during a four-week long fieldwork stay in Kenya in October 2015, and supplemented with secondary literature and statistical data.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato29 jun. 2016
VejledereMette Fog Olwig


  • Amartya Sen
  • Capability approach
  • PHE
  • Sustainable development
  • SRHR