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Keywords:

  • women;
  • immigrant;
  • culture;
  • participatory action research;
  • health promotion

Purpose: To examine South Asian immigrant women's health promotion issues and to facilitate the creation of emancipatory knowledge and self-understanding regarding health-promoting practices; to promote health education and mobilization for culturally relevant action.

Method: The study was based on critical social theory; the research model was participatory action research (PAR). Two groups of South Asian women (women from India and of Indian origin) who had immigrated to Canada participated in the project. The qualitative data were generated through focus groups. Reflexive and dialectical critique were used as methods of analyzing qualitative data. The data were interpreted through reiterative process, and dominant themes were identified.

Findings: Three themes that were extracted from the data were: (a) the importance of maintaining culture and tradition, (b) placing family needs before self, and (c) surviving by being strong. An issue for action was the risk of intergenerational conflicts leading to alienation of family members. Over a period of 3 years, the following action plans were carried out: (a) workshops for parents and children, (b) sharing of project findings with the community, and (c) a presentation at an annual public health conference.

Conclusions and Implications: The project activities empowered participants to create and share knowledge, which was then applied toward action for change. Health and health promotion were viewed as functions of the women's relationships to the world around them.